900 - 1500

Share
The era of 900 AD saw the start of the decline of the Mayan culture which had almost entirely disappeared by 1300. Only the Yucatan region in Mexico remained a last testimony to the rich culture of the once-glorious kingdom until the 14th and 15th century. It was entirely based on the old Mayan culture and habits: cocoa still played a very important role, not least as currency. In fact, the remaining Mayan cities still paid their taxes in cocoa beans to the Maya dynasty. However, after the Mayan culture had completely vanished, cocoa became more popular.

After the Toltecs, the Aztecs established their first communities in Mexico around 1300. By declaring themselves as the descendants of the Toltecs and through clever politics they empowered themselves to conquer an immense territory that covered a large part of the former Mayan territory. The ancient Toltec habits and religion played a key role in the Aztec culture. The Aztecs also worshipped the Toltec king Quetzalcoatl which again makes a link between the Aztecs and cocoa.

Quetzalcoatl – the mythical ancient Toltec king and god – was part human, part snake and part bird. He had a long, ugly face and colorful feathers. According to the legends, Quetzalcoatl received cocoa as a gift from the gods. It was his task to bring it from the paradise Eden to the humans and teach them how to grow different crops.

Quetzalcoatl did his job well. His kingdom Tula was built on the skills of his subjects: they melted and processed silver and precious, green stones and owed their skills to the divine power of Quetzalcoatl. The Toltec culture bloomed and showed great wealth with its houses, its silver and green stones, white shells and its rich soil that provided abundant harvests of maize, cotton and… cocoa.

Quetzalcoatl
The tide turned though when three sorcerers spread their rumors and lies in the paradise of Tula. One of them, Titlacauan, offered Quetzalcoatl a special drink that he said would give him eternal youth and would guide him back to paradise. It proved to be poisonous and sent Quetzalcoatl insane: he burned all of the houses and cocoa trees in Tula. After that, he disappeared on a raft out to the open sea and was never seen again. Luckily, not all cocoa trees were burnt. The cultivation of cocoa could continue.

The Aztecs always believed that the king and god Quetzalcoatl they worshipped would return to Mexico: cured and with a clear mind. In fact they were convinced that Quetzalcoatl would return in the year 1519 on the very same spot from where he had escaped.

Earthenware cocoa pod of the Aztec culture, Mexico
1250-1521 AD

Cup filled with cocoa beans
1400 AD

cocoa pod 1250-1521 AD cup 1400 AD