Prior to the early 16th century, many such magnificent headdresses were in use in Mesoamerica. They were associated with rulers, gods, priests and warriors.
After the conquest of the Aztec Empire between 1519 and 1521, the Spanish sent numerous artifacts to Europe. Although lists of many of these objects have been passed down, the feather headdress cannot be classified among them. Thus, the description of the headdress as a crown or possession of Moctezuma is not reliable.
First in an inventory of the collections of Ambras Castle Innsbruck from 1596 the headdress can be documented with certainty. There it is misleadingly described as a "Moorish hat with long, beautiful, gleaming, green glowing and golden feathers ...". However, there is no record of how the feather headdress came to Ambras.
In the early 19th century, the headdress was brought to Vienna and exhibited in the Lower Belvedere Palace. Around 1880 it was included in the collections of the Natural History Museum. When, after 1928, an ethnological museum was established in the Neue Burg, the headdress was eventually transferred to it.
„Mer ain Mörischer Huet von langen schönen gleissenden grienleuchtenden und gulden federn … hat vorn auf der Stirn, ain ganz gulden Schnabel.“
Christian Feest, Der altmexikanische Federkopfschmuck in Europa, in: Haag et al. (Hgg.), Der altmexikanische Federkopfschmuck, Altenstadt 2012, 5.
There is evidence that many such elaborate headdresses were used in different parts of Mesoamerica, especially along the coast and in the south. They were associated with rulers, priests, and warriors. But none of the others has survived.