Q'uq'umatz (or Quetzalcoatl) was a deity of the Postclassic K'iche' Maya. Q'uq'umatz was the Feathered Serpent divinity of the Popol Vuh who created humanity together with the god Tepeu. Q'uq'umatz is considered to be the rough equivalent of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, and also of Kukulkan of the Yucatec Mayatradition. It is likely that the feathered serpent deity was borrowed from one of these two peoples and blended with other deities to provide the god Q'uq'umatz that the K'iche' worshiped.
Q'uq'umatz may have had his origin in the Valley of Mexico; some scholars have equated the deity with the Aztec deity Ehecatl-Quetzalcoatl, who was also a creator god. Q'uq'umatz may originally have been the same god as Tohil, the K'iche' sun god who also had attributes of the feathered serpent, but they later diverged and each deity came to have a separate priesthood.
Q'uq'umatz was one of the gods who created the world in the Popul Vuh, the K'iche' creation epic. Q'uq'umatz carried the sun across the sky and down into the underworld and acted as a mediator between the various powers in the Maya cosmos. Quetzalcoatl is particularly associated with water, clouds, the wind, and the sky.
Quetzalcoatl and Tohil
Q'uq'umatz was not directly equivalent to the Mexican Quetzalcoatl, he combined his attributes with those of the Classic Period Chontal Mayacreator god Itzamna and was a two-headed serpentine sky monster that carried the sun across the sky. Sculptures of a human face emerging between the jaws of a serpent were common from the end of the Classic Period through to the Late Postclassic and may represent Q'uq'umatz in the act of carrying Hunahpu, the youthful avatar of the sun god Tohil, across the sky. After midday, Q'uq'umatz continued into the west and descended towards the underworld bearing an older sun. Such sculptures were used as markers for the Mesoamerican ballgame. Since Q'uq'umatz acted as a mediator between Tohil and Awilix and their incarnations as the Maya Hero Twins Hunahpu and Ixbalanque, the positioning of such ballcourt markers on the east and west sides of north-south oriented ballcourts would represent Q'uq'umatz carrying the sun to the zenith with the east marker carrying Hunahpu/Tohil in its jaws, while the west marker would represent the descent of the sun into the underworld and would be carrying Ixbalanque/Awilix in its jaws.
According to De León, who may have gathered the information from elders in Santa Cruz del Quiché, the feathered serpent gripped Tohil in his jaws to carry him safely up into the sky.
The name translates literally as "Quetzal Serpent" although it is often rendered less accurately as "Feathered Serpent." The name derives from the K'iche' word q'uq, referring to the Resplendent Quetzal Pharomachrus mocinno, a brightly colored bird of the cloud forests of southern Mesoamerica. This is combined with the word kumatz "snake." The male Resplendent quetzal boasts iridescent blue-green tail feathers measuring up to 1 meter (3.3 ft) long that was prized by the Maya elite.The blue-green feathers symbolized vegetation and the sky, both symbols of life for the ancient Maya, while the bright red feathers of the bird's chest symbolized fire.Together, this combination gave a profound religious symbolism to the bird. The snake was a Maya symbol of rebirth due to its habit of shedding its skin to reveal a fresher one underneath. Q'uq'umatz thus combined the celestial characteristics of the Quetzal with the serpentine underworld powers of the snake, giving him power over all levels of the Maya universe. These characteristics also indicated a sexual duality between his masculine feathered serpent aspect and his feminine association with water and wind.
- Quetzalcoatl has been seen in a decent amount of cinema, including the 1982 Horror movie Q the Winged Serpent in which Quetzalcoatl takes more of a dragon-like appearance rather than it's original snake-like look.
- In the Animal Planet horror series Lost Tapes, a police unit investigates a series of ritualistic murders by a religious cult who sacrifices to Quetzalcoatl, which later on ironically, get killed by the god himself.
- In the 2016 anime series Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Quetzalcoatl (Nicknamed Luoca) makes an appearance as one of the main characters of the series.
- In the 2019 film, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Quetzalcoatl's name appeared on one of the monitors after King Ghidorah awakened the dormant Titans.