Comparative Guts

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Mythic battle between a crocodilian creature and with the entrails spilling out of the defeated humans

Site: Becan
Culture: Maya
Date: Early Classic (c. AD 250-400)
Context: Structure 9
Medium: Polychromatically painted ceramic vessel
Figure credit: Drawing by Christophe Helmke.
Photograph by Jorge Pérez de Lara

The setting is a mythic battle in primordial times, pitting a large reptilian monster against three human figures. The crocodilian monster, with its crested head, its open maw, and elongated claws has thoroughly defeated the onslaught and has chewed over the human assailants, who still limply wear their headdresses. In grisly fashion, each human is shown defeated, upside down, chewed in half, their entrails spilling out in swirls of blood. The viscera of the central figure terminate in two larger elements that denote some vital organs. This is one of the few scenes that so clearly represent the viscera in Maya art, and still stylised forms permeate the scene. Here we see streams of blood melding with the intestines, and what may represent the kidneys. (CH)