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.
Many communities have designed money in the shape of objects that are important to them, such as tools and weapons. They usually do not make them sharp, though. They were only supposed to be used to make payments.
This piece of money shaped like a knife was used in China for a wide range of purchases. It is more than 2,000 years old, making it one of the first coins in world history.