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Cultural Studies


In the Aztec society the hummingbird symbolizes regeneration and resurrection. Its long tongue lets it bypass the often tough and bitter outer layer to find the hidden treasures underneath. In many traditions, Hummingbird feathers have been prized for their almost magical qualities. In Aztec mythology, Huitzilopochtli, also spelled Uitzilopochtli (Classical Nahuatl: "Left-Handed Hummingbird") was a god of war, a sun god, and the patron of the city of Tenochtitlan. He was also the national god of the Mexicas of Tenochtitlan.


In Mayan history hummingbirds are depicted as the sun in disguise, trying to woo the moon. According to Mayan beliefs the first two hummingbirds were created from the remains of various birds. The god who created the hummingbirds threw them an elaborate wedding ceremony, complete with flower petals and silky spider webs. The sun contributed by shining beams of light onto the ceremony, giving the groom a beautiful red and green plumage. Observers noticed that his color was due to the light of the sun, and whenever he turned away, he returned to his normal grey color. Thus, the origin of hummingbirds and the creation of the male hummingbird’s colorful breast.


In addition, hummingbirds would pierce the tongues of ancient kings. The blood would then be poured onto sacred scrolls and then burned, and would conjure images of divine ancestors in the smoke.

During a famine, a brother and sister were abandoned by their parents while searching for food. The brother made a toy hummingbird for his sister in hopes of calming her nervousness after the loss of their parents. The sister tossed it up in the air, and it magically turned into a living, breathing hummingbird. The hummingbird kept the brother and sister alive by bringing them corn husks everyday. The hummingbird then travelled to the center of the Earth to persuade the gods to revive the soil so the brother and sister could grow crops again so they could survive.  
According to Apache folklore, legend tells the story of the Wind Dancer, a warrior that was born deaf. The Wind Dancer was magical and could sing wordless songs that brought healing and good weather. He then married Bright Rain, a beautiful, young woman. He rescued her when she was attacked by a wolf. Unfortunately the Wind Dancer was killed in a separate battle. Winter came, but as soon as it started, Bright Rain took long walks that suddenly the harsh winter. The tribe’s elders realized that Wind Dancer had reincarnated into a hummingbird in order to visit the love of his life. As a hummingbird, Wind Dancer  wore the same ceremonial costume and war paint he had worn as a man. As Bright Rain took her walks and wandered in fields full of flowers, Wind Dancer would whisper magical secrets in her ear. This calmed Bright Rain and brought peace upon her.
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