|This is a rollout of a vessel that comes from Guatemala and dates to the 500s AD to the 600s AD. It shows the Jaguar God|
of the Underworld. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Like the Waterlily Jaguar, the Jaguar God of the Underworld was a supernatural jaguar being that the ancient Maya believed existed. This god seems to be connected to the underworld (Xibalbá) and may have been an aspect of the sun god. Other names you might see used for him include the Jaguar Night Sun, the Jaguar War God, and JGU.
Other than having jaguar features, the Jaguar God of the Underworld has some other characteristics of worthy of note. For one thing, his eyes were square. (This isn't unusual, because there are other ancient Maya gods also had square eyes.) The pupils of his eyes were spirals. (Archaeologists have found that underworld beings had spiral eyes.) Between his eyes, a twisted cord or rope goes up -- archaeologists call this a "cruller."
Then there was his teeth -- or more accurately, tooth -- as the ancient Maya drew him only with one. There were, however, two ways that they drew his tooth. One of the two ways they drew it was a fang. The second way was to draw it like a capital "T." (This "T" shape is an ik' symbol.) Both of these teeth were in the middle of his top gum, where a person's front teeth would normally go.
Finally, the ancient Maya drew this god with k'in signs. These are symbols of the sun.
The Jaguar God of the Underworld may have been the sun at night (when it was going through the underworld) and been connected to the Moon. As such, he may have been an aspect of the sun.
There's another idea though. The Jaguar God of the Underworld may have been a fire god. The cruller may represent a rope used for a fire-making tool called a fire drill. And there are images of certain elites doing rituals connected to fire -- dressed as the Jaguar God of the Underworld.
This supernatural being was connected to several other things, one of which was war. (On a related note, one place you can see an image of the Jaguar Sun of the Underworld is the "Tablet of the Sun" at Palenque. On the tablet, his image is on a shield.) Art and Myth of the Ancient Maya says that the Maya in the Classic Period believed this god was a patron god of war. And that wasn't the only thing he was patron of -- he was also the number 7's patron god.
Another supernatural jaguar being that the ancient Maya believed in was the Jaguar Baby (Unen Bahlam or Unen B'alam.) This being was an aspect of the Jaguar God of the Underworld, a form of him as a baby.
|This is an stone carving of a "GI type deity."|
It was made from limestone or marble around
100 BC to 100 AD and comes from Mexico.
From the Yale University Art Gallery.
Another god that the Maya at Palenque believed in, which archaeologists call GI, may also bee connected to the Jaguar God of the Underworld. GI could be the sun when it is rising -- and therefore be the Jaguar God of the Underworld turning into the sun god again.
As Part of Glyph C
In monument inscriptions, the ancient Maya would take the time to write down calendar-related information. This included glyph C, which was part of a series of glyphs that talked about the moon. Part of glyph C could be one of three different images, depending on where the moon was at in its cycle. One of these, it seems, was the Jaguar God of the Underworld.
Google Books: "Archaeoastronomy and the Maya"; Gerardo Aldana Y Villalobos, Edwin L. Barnhart (editors); 2014
Google Books: "Maya Calendar Origins:Monuments, Mythistory, and the Materialization of Time"; Prudence M. Rice;2007
Google Books: "The Memory of Bones:Body, Being, and Experience Among the Classic Maya"; Stephen Houston, David Stuart, Karl Taube; 2006
Image Credits:The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Vessel, Seated Deities
Yale University Art Gallery: Jaguar head of a GI type deity, probably an inset from a waist or chest assumblage