Resplendant Quetzal bird, Guatemala, collected around 1923


Communities in Mexico and Central America used quetzal (KET-sahl) tail feathers to pay taxes to Aztec rulers. The feathers were also made into headdresses and clothing for royalty and religious leaders. To get the feathers, people caught the quetzal and pulled out its tail feathers. But they let it fly away, and the quetzal’s tail feathers grew back. The longest tail feather of this male quetzal bird is 21 inches long.

The quetzal has been the name of Guatemala’s currency since 1925.

Collected: ca 1923

Place Collected: GuatemalaAssociated Place: Guatemala

See more items in: Work and Industry: National Numismatic Collection

Exhibition: Really BIG Money

Exhibition Location: National Museum of American History

Credit Line: The Honorable Charles E. Hughes

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: NU.70088.0001Catalog Number: 273944Accession Number: 70088

Object Name: Quetzal Birdalternative currency

Physical Description: wood (perch material)feathers, organic materials (overall material)Measurements: top of head to wooden base: 44 cm; 17 5/16 inbase: 16.5 cm; 6 1/2 intop of head to bottom of tail feather: 70 cm; 27 9/16 in


Record Id: nmah_910651

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