Comparative Guts

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Battle scene at Cacaxtla, showing captives whose entrails are gush out of the severed abdomen

Site: Cacaxtla
Culture: Epiclassic
Date: Epiclassic (c. AD 650-850)
Context: Building B, western talud
Medium: Polychromatic mural painting
Figure credit: Photograph by Ricardo Alvarado / Drawing by Citlali Coronel

This elaborate and colorful mural of a tortuous and bloody battle, is reminiscent in many ways to the murals found at the Maya site of Bonampak. At Cacaxtla, we see a defeated individuals cast to the ground at the bottom of the scene. The vanquished individual is depicted almost naked, with the exception of a headdress in the form of a bird. The naked body has been slashed open, with blood dripping on the ground from large open wounds. Furthermore, an open wound along the lower abdomen reveals the guts, spilling out of the person, which are marked by a bright yellow color. In contrast, the attacking warriors are fully clothed, and wearing garments related to spotted felines, quite likely jaguars. These feline and avian warriors possibly represent the different warrior-orders, here locked in the din and death of battle. (LG)