Names for plumed creatures, mythical and real

Two names this morning: Quetzalcoatl (the mythical plumed serpent), Hoatzin (the extravagantly plumed bird).

Quetzalcoatl. From Wikipedia:

Quetzalcoatl … (Classical Nahuatl: QuetzalcohuńĀtl …) is a Mesoamerican deity whose name comes from the Nahuatl language and means “feathered serpent”. The worship of a feathered serpent is first known documented in Teotihuacan in the first century BCE or first century CE.

The creature is associated with Mayan, and later, Aztec culture.

At temples such as the aptly named “Quetzalcoatl temple” in the Ciudadela complex, feathered serpents figure prominently and alternate with a different kind of serpent head. The earliest depictions of the feathered serpent deity were fully zoomorphic, depicting the serpent as an actual snake, but already among the Classic Maya the deity began acquiring human features.

Earlier and later versions: (#1)


Note 1: Quetzalcoatl has come up on this blog once before in a 12/6/10 posting on possibly unfortunate names, in section 1 of which The Plumed Serpent ends up as the name of a gay bar.

The Plumed Serpent begins as the title of A D.H. Lawrence novel set in Mexico. The title is a reference to the cult of Quetzalcoatl, the plumed (feathered) serpent.

Then comes serpent as slang for penis, and that gets you to a gay bar.

Note 2: A memorable schlocky movie of my childhood (played at Halloween parties at the local YMCA) was The Flying Serpent,

a 1946 American fantasy-horror film film directed by Sam Newfield and featuring George Zucco, Ralph Lewis, Hope Kramer and Eddie Acuff.

… Insane archaeologist Professor Andrew Forbes (George Zucco) uses a beast he unearthed to kill his enemies. The creature is the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl. Slowly those who know this try to stop the maniac and his monster. (Wikipedia link)


Hoatzin. Then there’s the bird:


The hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin), also known as the stinkbird, or Canje pheasant, is a species of tropical bird found in swamps, riparian forests, and mangroves of the Amazon and the Orinoco Delta in South America. It is notable for having chicks that possess claws on two of their wing digits.

It is the only member of the genus Opisthocomus (Ancient Greek: “wearing long hair behind”, referring to its large crest), which in turn is the only extant genus in the family Opisthocomidae. (Wikipedia link)

First cousin to Quetzalcoatl.

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