Comparative Guts

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A depiction of a man being attacked and mauled by a jaguar, as his entrails flow from the severed abdomen

Site: Greater Calakmul area
Culture: Maya
Date: Late Classic (AD 650-750)
Context: Vase BOD32
Medium: Codex-style painted ceramic vase
Figure credit: Drawing by Christophe Helmke

In the detail of this intricately painted Maya vase, we can appreciate the powerful image of a man being overpowered and mauled by a jaguar. In a paradoxical reversal, the human has become and the prey, and in an almost human gait, the jaguar leaps upon the man. The poor mauled male lies defenceless on the ground, as the jaguar violently tears out his abdomen, from which the entrails pour forth in large scrolls. This ferocious scene is unique in the repertoire of Maya art and shows the entrails as almost fluid and amorphous, as if the organs, tissue and blood were continuous and indistinguishable. (CH)