Exhibitions: Life, Death, and Transformation in the Americas

Effigy Vessel in the Form of a Jaguar Impersonator

This Maya effigy vessel depicts the head and torso of a hunchback human figure wearing a full jaguar-skin costume. Small teeth are visible near the fangs, and hands appear above the paws. Hunchbacks and dwarves were highly respected among the Maya, frequently serving as attendants to rulers. Like the jaguar-skinned dancers depicted on cylindrical vessels, this figure may be impersonating the God of the Underworld, with the scarf around his neck symbolizing human sacrifice and death.