The Olmec civilization is the most Ancient Mexican civilization, often considered as the "Mother Civilization" of the new world. The Olmecs were carvers of stone, from gigantic colossal heads, stelae, altars, jade Celts figurines, to pendants. Many of Olmec sculptures, such as this jaguar figure, had special meanings. Believing in the legend of were-jaguar baby, they carved numerous images of jaguar babies and infant images.
This image of a jaguar is carved of a light green stone and it is polished to achieve a smooth surface texture. The feline is in a sitting or a kneeling position, with very minimal indication of the limbs. Perhaps the artist of this marvelous sculpture carved the animal to preserve the shape of the natural stone. The face is carved with soft, almost lyrical quality--the curving eyebrow lines swiftly move up to the head and the intricate mouth is lightly open to reveal the teeth. The small nose is realistic, with even the nostrils indicated. Its body is elongated in a narrow shape, and the top of the body has an oval indentation, which suggests that this sculpture had a special function. Could it have been an amulet? Or did it support or hold a magical substance in rituals? Although we may not know the exact function of this sculpture, we know that it was kept and treated as a precious item. The jaguar was one of the most revered animals and was worshipped as a God in Ancient Meso-America. As jaguars roamed and ruled the wild jungle, Meso-Americans recognized such power and prowess of jaguars and worshiped them. As we look into the stone sculpture, we can almost feel the gentle hands of the artist who so lovingly carved the beautiful, intricate jaguar.