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Net-Jaguar Mural


Teotihuacan, Early Classic
400-600 CE
72.71 cm x 212.41 cm (28 5/8 in. x 83 5/8 in.)
Fresco
PC.B.062

On view


Permalink: http://museum.doaks.org/objects-1/info/23026

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Detail


Description
An anthropomorphic jaguar appears to be progressing toward a building. Perhaps a temple, it is itself anthropomorphized, with an elaborate decorative roof comb in the shape of a traditional Teotihuacan headdress. This building stands on a talud and tablero platform, a typical feature of Teotihuacan’s architecture. The jaguar follows a path with two water channels on either side, indicated by a rich blue pigment and representations of eyes. Footprints, a common Mesoamerican artistic convention to denote movement, are indicated on the path, suggesting the jaguar’s progress towards the building.

This mural painting is part of a broader composition that once covered the walls of an apartment compound in Teotihuacan, the largest and most important city in ancient Mesoamerica during the Classic period. Originally located on the lower part of the wall, this fragment was part of a pair of murals flanking a doorway of a richly decorated room.

The jaguar appears to wear a type of net costume. “Net-jaguars” have been associated with aquatic and underworld deities as well as with military orders. This jaguar brandishes what appears to be a woven, red feathered shield and a green standard or a rattle, and wears a feathered headdress made of the green plumes of the quetzal bird. Quetzals are not found in Central Mexico, and the use of their feathers indicates long-distance exchange and trade with lowland groups. Green, a color associated with fertility, was used to mark preciousness and wealth as well as status in Mesoamerica. A curling scroll emerges from the mouth of the net-jaguar, filled with emblems of precious materials, likely representing carved greenstones. Such scrolls probably symbolize song or chant, perhaps representing flowery or precious speech.


Bibliography
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Exhibition History
"Indigenous Art of the Americas", National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, April 1947 to July 1962.


Acquisition History
Purchased from Earl Stendahl, Los Angeles (dealer), by Robert Woods Bliss, 1941.

Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art, Washington, DC, 1941-1962.

Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Pre-Columbian Collection, Washington, DC.


Anthropomorphic | Aquatic | Felines | Foot | Headdresses|Helmets | Quetzals | Teotihuacan