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The Jaguar  Gods

 of THE


Bonampak Mural of Jaguars of Maya  

The jaguar was the most feared and respected beast in the Mesoamerican world  The jaguar gods of the Maya were associated with night, caves and the underworld, like the jaguar itself, and were sometimes associated with shamanic transformations. The skin of the jaguar was used in many costumes, to denote high rank, power, authority and an association with the gods, especially in times of war. In the beautiful murals of the Maya, it is usually the rulers who wear those fashionable jaguar outfits!

Twin Jaguars of the Maya 

In Mayan art on wall and cave murals, and on vases, the jaguar is sometimes shown in its naturally occurring color phases of black (The Jaguar God of the Underworld) or light (The Jaguar God of the Upper World). Both jaguar gods were regarded as necessary beings, without as much value judgment or labeling as to their aspects of good or evil. Both were associated with the Creator as his helpers in forming the world, and they helped promote the changes necessary for continuation of the world.

 Mayan Jaguar Mural From Bonampak

The Maya had many jaguar deities, and associated the jaguar with power, probably because the jaguar occupies the top level of the food chain, as do humans. Often, the rulers of the Maya are depicted seated on a jaguar throne. Together, the Maya and the jaguar shared dominion over the tropical rain forest. 

The Accession of Pacal to the Twin Jaguar Throne of Palenque

Munich Zoological Garden, 1912

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