Quetzalcoatl. Aztec (Mexico), 1300-1521

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Share the Art Print with students and teach them how to pronounce the name Quetzalcoatl (KETS-ull-KOH-ahtl). Explain that he is an important hero-god to the ancient Mexican people. (It might be helpful to draw a comparison to other ancient civilizations' gods such as Anubis to the ancient Egyptians, or Zeus to the ancient Greeks).

Also explain that his name means "feathered serpent." Point out the coils and feathers that are carved into the stone to represent Quetzalcoatl's hybrid form. Show students pictures of the quetzal bird (www.mayanmajix.com/quetzal.html) and the black diamond rattlesnake (srelherp.uga.edu/SPARC/trip17.htm), the two creatures Quetzacoatl comprises.

Give young students an opportunity to create their own hybrid creature mask. Let them look through books and old nature magazines, such as National Geographic, to find two animals that they find visually dynamic.

Before students begin to design their mask, model how you might select attributes from two different animals and combine them into one hybrid creature. For example, if you were to choose a rabbit and a tiger, your mask might be patterned after a tiger's striped coat, with floppy rabbit ears.

Have students work on a mask template (there are many free versions online), and let them color their design onto the mask form. Help younger students cut out their mask and attach a piece of elastic band to make it wearable. Have a parade where students can display their creations.


Share the Art Print with students and explain pertinent information about the subject, Quetzalcoatl. Point out that the bust is actually quite small, measuring just under 13 inches tall and 9 inches wide. Using an easy-to-model polymer clay, give students an opportunity to create their own scaled down clay bust of a hybrid creature. Show students how to form a simple head and how to build up the face and hair. …