Geek Trivia

Aztec Kings Wore Cloaks Made From What Unusual Material?

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Hummingbird Pelts
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Answer: Hummingbird Pelts

In Aztec culture the hummingbird was a sacred animal revered for its fierceness and held as a symbol of the empire and of Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec god of war and the sun. While this might seem like an odd choice given how tiny hummingbirds are, the Aztecs had keenly observed the tiny iridescent birds and witnessed how intensely they fought for resources. Hummingbirds, despite their tiny stature and initially harmless appearance, are incredibly fierce creatures who will fight anyone and anything that stands between them and the precious nectar they need to keep their incredibly fast metabolisms running.

Not only was the hummingbird a symbol of the Aztec empire but only royalty could wear hummingbird feathers and one special honor was reserved for the king: a luxurious cloak made entirely of hummingbird pelts. How many pelts would it take to make a hummingbird cloak you wonder? A lot. More than a lot. A staggering 8,000 hummingbird pelts were required for each king’s cloak. The end result, we can only imagine, was a shimmery iridescent masterpiece fit for, well, a king.

Image courtesy of Finca Lerida.