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Kukulkan ("Plumed" or "Feathered Serpent") was a Maya snake deity that was closely related to the K'iche' people's Q'uq'umatz and the Aztec Quetzalcoatl. Among the Lacandon Maya of Chiapas, he was a monstrous snake that was the pet of the sun god. He accompanied the Yucatec Maya rain god Chaac, helping to predict the rains as his tail moved the winds and swept the earth clean. During the Classic Period (3rd to 10th centuries) he was known as Waxaklahun Ubah Kan (the War Serpent). His cult formed the core of the state religion of Itza and was the first Mesoamerican religion to transcend the old Classic Period linguistic and ethnic divisions, facilitating communication and peaceful trade among peoples of many different social and ethnic backgrounds. Putún Maya merchants from Mexico's Gulf Coast introduced the Quetzalcoatl cult of central Mexico, which heaily influenced the worship of Kukulkan; they probably also actively promoted the syncretic feathered serpent cult throughout Mesoamerica, as well as the Itza political and commercial agenda. Though the cult was originally centered on Chichen Itza ("at the mouth of the well of the Itza people") in the Mexican state of Yucatán, it spread as far as the Guatemalan highlands. References to the deity are confused by references to a 10th century ruler or priest with the same name. He was also depicted as a Vision Serpent (a messenger between the king and the gods) entwined around the figures of nobles, but came instead to symbolize the divinity of the state. According to the Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel, Chichen Itza was conquered by Hunac Ceel, ruler of the nearby Postclassic city of Mayapan, in the 13th century, and Mayapan became the center of the revived Kukulkan cult. At the time of the Spanish attempt at colonization under Francisco de Montejo and his son in the 1530s, the high priest of Kukulkan was the family patriarch of the Xiu faction and was one of the two most powerful men in the city. In one account, Kukulkan was a boy who was born as a snake; as he grew, his sister was unable to continue feeding him, so he flew out of his cave into the sea, causing an earthquake and, to let his sister know that he is still alive, he causes earth tremors every year in July. In another account, he was a winged serpent who tried to speak to the sun, but the haughty sun burnt his tongue.
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