The feathered serpent is one of the most venerable images in the whole corpus of mesoamerican art and to explain it fully would require a whole book. It appears in all cultures from the Olmec to the Aztec. It probably carried many different meanings in different contexts. One can only speculate. It does not mean that mesoamericans worshiped serpents. The temple it appears on was named the Temple of Quetzalcoatl in the first years of this century when these figures were first uncovered. Quetzalcoatl, as a Nahuatl word (the language of the Aztecs) means literally "feathered serpent". The term has Aztec references both to the planet Venus, a supernatural associated with the planet, with wind, and with a number of other things, and to a mythological human who was a Toltec ruler. We do not know what the Teotihuacan people called it. As part of a double-headed image it may refer to the Milky Way or to the zodiac.
To learn more about feathered serpent imagery consult: David Carrasco, Quezalcoatl and the Irony of Empire; Miller, Mary E.and Karl Taube, The Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and H. B. Nicholson, 'The Iconography of the Feathered Serpent in Late Postclassic Central Mexico", in Mesoamerica's Classic Heritage, edited by David Carrasco, Lindsay Jones and Scott Sessions, University Press of Colorado, 2000.
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