The Mayan legend tells about the time when Kukulkan, the god creator, and Tepeu, the god of the heavens, created the earth together. When they gave life to the birds, the quetzal was born from the puffs of air blown at a guayacán tree. With the divine breaths, the greenish-blue leaves from the guayacán tree flew away in the form of this majestic bird of wonderful long plumage.
Moctezuma’s headdress, a quetzalapanecáyotl, made of quetzal feathers, is thought to have been created by the amantecas, Mexica artists who specialized in making objects for the god Quetzalcóatl, or “plumed serpent”, using feathers. This headdress was made with 222 feathers, most of which are from quetzal birds.
Currently, the original piece is housed at the Ethnology Museum in Vienna, Austria, while a reproduction can be seen at the National Anthropology Museum, in Mexico City.