When the Spanish conquistadors visited the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán, they found the rulers, priests and dignitaries wearing elaborate headdresses made from quetzal feathers. Bernal Díaz, who chronicled the conquest of “New Spain,” described how the great Montezuma, when he came to meet Cortés, was shaded by a huge canopy of quetzal feathers.
by death they who killed the bird with the rich plumes because it was not found in other places and these feathers were of great value because they used them as money.”
the cacao bean, which was used as a form of currency, the commodity that probably contributed most to the native’s wealth were these feathers.
The Maya had a symbolic system of colors: black for weapons, obsidian; yellow for food, corn; red for war; and blue for sacrifice. But the royal color was green, the color of Kukul —the serpent bird.
When the great Mayan cities fell the highlanders continued to trade quetzal feathers with the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán, where Mexico City now stands. When the Spanish conquistadors visited the Aztec city they found rulers, priests and dignitaries wearing elaborate headdresses made from quetzal feathers.
Highland Indians were allowed to trap the birds and remove their tail feathers (which grow back each year) but they were forbidden to kill or keep them captive. After
Bernal Díaz, who chronicled the conquest revuemag.com « 17
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