The centipede in the Maya art and culture

Keywords: Maya culture, iconography, mythology, cultural entomology, insects, arthropods, centipede


Insects and arthropods appear in the Maya art in a rich and diverse context, suggesting their prominent significance in the culture. In the following chapters I present my research concerning the appearance of the centipede, one of the arthropods most commonly represented in the Maya iconography. I studied depictions of the centipede in the art of the Classic Period (250 A.D. - 909 A.D) and compared them with epigraphical and ethnohistorical sources in order to define the specific symbolic meaning of this animal in all contexts of its occurrence. My research focused on the centipede as part of the vision serpent complex, its connections to the Palenque triad, Sun God K’inich Ajaw and Bolon Yokte K’uh. In the conclusion, I try to establish the significance of the centipede as the animal of transition, more specifically the transition between night and day and the Underworld and our world.


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How to Cite
Ciura, M. (2019). The centipede in the Maya art and culture. Estudios Latinoamericanos, 38, 49-79.