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Maya Lamanai City Crocodile Terracotta Figurine


Maya Lamanai City Crocodile Terracotta Figurine

Terracotta; 2.2 pound/ 10 inches, 2/3 scale of the original artifact.

Created exclusively for NRC by artist Louise Ballenger and not available anywhere else.

Dr. David M. Pendergast, Curator Emeritus of the Royal Ontario Museum, directed a long-term archaeological research project at Lamanai between 1974 and 1986.  During that period, Louise Ballenger was included in his staff as ‘resident artist’ and created many watercolor images of the ruins, local birds, and reptiles. Sheri and I were fortunate to meet her on site and have a few of her watercolor prints now framed on our wall.

Hidden deep in the shadow-haunted jungles of Belize, Lamanai (Lama’ an/ayin in Maya=Submerged Crocodile) is certainly the longest inhabited city in the New World and is dated from at least 1500 BC.

So why does this crocodile have the face of a man in his mouth, you may ask? And remember, this is from Lamanai, the City of the Submerged Crocodile.

Maya city rulers (they didn’t have kings as we know them) were called K'inich Ajaw, or Shining-faced lords. These rulers were expected on very special occasions to commune with his ancestors, asking them for their advice.  Under great ceremony, the lord proceeded up the stone stairs to the top of the pyramid. He then walked into the temple and from the viewing public in the plaza below. After ingesting several organic narcotics via mouth and enema, and then wreathed in the smoke of smoldering copal, the vision of his ancestor was revealed. 

As seen in the photos, the ancestor is depicted coming from the mouth of a crocodile. He is wearing a jeweled headdress and a jewel between his brows. The large teeth is the Maya way to depict that this is not a human image, but rather as a spirit ancestor.

One of only three ever created, this is not a cheap knock-off. Click the 'images' tab for more photos.