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Ñawi: arte diseño comunicación

versión On-line ISSN 2588-0934versión impresa ISSN 2528-7966


GOMEZ SANCHEZ, Javier. Jaguar Snakes in Mochica iconographic art. Creatures of death and life. Ñawi [online]. 2024, vol.8, n.1, pp.99-116. ISSN 2588-0934.

Moche pictorial art, despite its simplicity of style, reveals to contain multiple mystical meanings. Centuries of cultural heritage and philosophical thought fall on its figures and narrative forms. Thus, once their most basic techniques are understood, the narrative and metaphorical meaning they contain can be studied. One of the most recurrent of these figures and metaphors was the one referring to the snake-jaguar animal hybrid, a mythological creature referring to renewal. Its image of regeneration emphasized, in its deepest interpretation, the inexhaustible circle of life after death; applied with special interest to agriculture and the maintenance of human order. The other vision, the most profane, referred to the necessary renewal of political power; to the death and rebirth of the authority of the Moche rulers. The strategy of the Mochica ruling elite went through various moments of anguish, especially due to the climatological disasters caused by unexpected floods and torrents or received without proper preparation, which put the authorities in charge of dealing with the divinities and praying, for a climate without surprises, directly on the target. Therefore, regeneration, that is, the death and rebirth of the ruling leadership, was necessary. Through it, it was stated that the new authorities had overcome their weaknesses and were returning, this time stronger, to continue occupying their position. The icon with which the Mochicas expressed this phenomenon of exhaustion of authority and its subsequent reinforcement was that of snakes with the heads of jaguars.

Palabras clave : Snake; power; visual culture; renewal; life and death.

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