Quetzalcoatl. 15c. Musee de l'Homme Paris.jpg

Sculpture, Musee de l'Homme (Paris) 

Quetzalcoatl/Ehecatl from the Codex Telleriano-Remensis

Manuscript portrait, Codex Telleriano-Remensis

Codex Borbonicus.jpg

Quetzalcoatl in animal form, Codex Borbonicus

A sculpture from the Musee de l'Homme, a painted portrait in the Codex Telleriano-Remensis, and an image of the god in animal form in a folio of the Codex Borbonicus all demonstrate the many manifestations Quetzalcoatl undertook in Aztec artistic portrayals. The execution of the sculpture makes visual interpretation much more difficult than the iconographic study of those depictions found in codices because it cannot be viewed in the round. However, it is evident that the most dominant feature of the work is the quetzal deathers that adorn the figure’s back. Furthermore, it appears that a serpent’s head eclipses the human being’s head when the sculpture is viewed from the side. This evident from the fangs that frame the man’s forehead and the serpent’s nose that creates the man’s frontal bangs.

In the depiction of Quetzalcoatl in the Codex Telleriano-Remensis, there are specific attributes of his attire that are noteworthy. The most recognizable attribute he is wearing is an enormous headdress of quetzals for which he was named. Other physical attributes that the depiction boasts are a turquoise jewel at the center of the white and black zig-zag headband, a sickle-shaped spear in his left hand, a shield that contains quetzals in his right hand, and a black stripe of soot down the center of his face. It is apparent that he is also wearing foam sandals, footwear that are also adorned by numerous other Aztec gods in manuscript depictions, that are decorated by jeweled anklets. The sandals are recognizable by the white blocks present on each of his heels. Furthermore, the god wears a corded sack on his back. The colors used to depict Quetzalcoatl in this portrait include red, yellow, orange, white and green. However, red and green are the most prominent colors present in the Codex Telleriano-Remensis portrait. Diirectly above the deity's portrait, he is labeled as “Quecalcoatle.”

Lastly, in the iconographic portrait of Quetzalcoatl in the Codex Borbonicus, he is depicted in his animal form: the plumed serpent. He is shown in the act of devouring a man, a testament to his reputation as one of the most wrathful gods in Aztec mythology. It is evident that the enormous serpent is Quetzalcoatl because he appears in snake form with plumed, green feathers on his back and tail. Quetzals and snake-like attributes were his most recognizable physical features in sculpture and portrait portrayals.