Praying to the Predator: Symbols of Insect Animism on Luna Polychrome

Author(s): Sharisse McCafferty; Geoffrey McCafferty

Year: 2018


Pacific Nicaragua has long been noted as a cultural crossroads, especially featuring historically documented migrants from central Mexico. Following ethnohistorical accounts, Nahuat speaking groups colonized the Rivas area in the Late Postclassic Ometepe period. The most prominent diagnostic ceramic of this time was Luna Polychrome, often found in mortuary contexts. This paper presents a detailed analysis of over 50 Luna vessels from the Mi Museo collection. The overarching theme of the painted designs relates to the Praying Mantis. This interpretation coincides with oral traditions relating the mantis as the "Madre Culebra", a powerful and revered predator of the insect world and closely affiliated with female symbolic authority. The association of these vessels with mortuary ritual suggest links to the Nahuat deity Cihuacoatl, a goddess of death and regeneration, whose name also translates as ‘woman serpent’.

Cite this Record

Praying to the Predator: Symbols of Insect Animism on Luna Polychrome. Sharisse McCafferty, Geoffrey McCafferty. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444790)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -92.153; min lat: -4.303 ; max long: -50.977; max lat: 18.313 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21308