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STUDIO NOTES: LEGEND OF THE QUETZAL

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
– Roald Dahl

We believe in stories and magic and all of the wonderful mysteries in life. This is just one of the reasons we long to explore the world and experience a bit of its wonder. This week, we wanted to share the legend behind one of our styles in the Eternal Spring Collection. The Quetzal is both the national bird and denomination of money in Guatemala. Follow along to learn more about what it means to the people of Guatemala & why it has captured our hearts.

Simon and Ruby Quetzal Necklace

Legend has it that long ago in the forests of Guatemala, a son was born to the Chief of one of the forest tribes. On the day the boy was born, a large, brightly colored hummingbird was seen in the tree outside the Chief’s home. It was believed that each person has a spirit & creature companion and the wise men of the tribe said it meant that Quetzal, the son, would become a beloved chief. They also believed that his story would be unusual, but they wouldn’t be able to tell any more until he was older.

As the boy grew into a young man, it was obvious that he would be a great leader. He was courageous and strong, but also kind and generous. His uncle, Chiruma, longed to be the chief of the tribe, but knew that he never would be, as long as Quetzal was alive.

When Quetzal was still a young man, his father passed away and Quetzal took his place as the new chief. The wise men declared that the sign of the hummingbird meant that Quetzal would never die. The people of the tribe were overjoyed, but his uncle was still plotting his revenge.

Soon after, there was an attack by a neighboring tribe and Chiruma called upon his nephew to lead the charge. He thought surely he could claim his position if Quetzal died in battle. Quetzal was obviously protected by the gods, because when the enemy shot their arrows, they all arced and fell to the ground, never hitting him. They were terrified and fled.

Hearing this, Chiruma believed that Quetzal’s protection came from the pendant he wore around his neck. He snuck into his room and stole the charm. The next morning, Quetzal went into the forest to hunt, never noticing his charm was gone. His uncle followed him and shot him in the chest with an arrow. As Quetzal lay bleeding on the forest floor, a wondrous thing happened. He transformed into a magnificent red and green bird and rose gracefully into the air.

They say that the gods kept their promise to Quetzal. The beautiful bird still lives in the forest of Guatemala and is revered as a holy bird & a reminder that their leader lives on in their hearts.

*Adapted from Amy Friedman Sun Sentinel article, 4/2008

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