Quetzalcoatl in Disguise
This scene is about the arrival of the Spaniards in the Americas and their efforts to destroy indigenous cultural practices and impose European beliefs and values, including religion. The horse rider or “jinete” represents the Spanish invader who initially was mistaken as Quetzalcoatl by the Aztecs. Scholars of Mesoamerica have argued that the Aztecs were welcoming to the Spaniards when they first arrived because they thought that Quetzalcoatl was among them. According to Aztec history, Quetzalcoatl was a feathered serpent deity and high priest-ruler of the Toltecs who was also a mythical ancestor of Aztec rulers. This deity left Central Mexico in the ninth century to sail on the ocean with the promise to return. When the Spaniards landed on the shores of Yucatan, the Aztecs thought that Quetzalcoatl was finally returning to the homeland.
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