Chacmool…… A statue with an interesting back story

Chacmool is one of the statues found at the National Gallery of Victoria that i, for many many years, wandered past, without stopping to acknowledge, ignorant of knowledge of this interesting form of artwork.Jg100068

All chacmools follow the same form- where the figure reclines with knees bent and the head sits facing 90 degrees from the body, and the hands of the figure hold a receptacle, believed to have contained offerings.

It is situated upstairs, near the escalator, and it is only recently that i have stopped to actually view him, to acknowledge him and to recount the interesting back-story to this amazing statue.

Our recent trip to Mexico in January 2017, found us at the site where the original chacmool statue was found, on the sacred site known as Chichen Itza.




Our tour guide had taken us through the Grand Ball Court, where the warriors would compete for the honour of being beheaded as a sacrifice to the God of Corn, ( the letting of blood to ensure a full and plentiful crop for the community).  More proof to me of the reasons NOT to play sport- you win, you lose your head!

Anyway, our tour guide then walked us past the wall of skulls, a wall of decorated motifs signifying the brave warriors who were sacrificed on these sacred grounds and then we stumbled across the original Chacmool statue. ( shown above= slightly worse for wear- out in the open and not protected in the nice warm dry gallery).

So our tour guide then spoke of the year that the Ruler of a certain township, who was nominated to be the captain of the competing teams, found himself in the position of being the winning captain……. and realised his fate…………. stopped to think about the upcoming ‘letting of blood”.

Well this particular wealthy ruler had a brainwave, and called all those around to witness a new and exciting way to “let the blood to ensure a good crop”. He reclined himself, with his knees bent and proceeded to spear his genitals and offered his blood to the god of corn.

With the shedding of blood, and the keeping of his head on his fine neck, he ensured a plentiful crop and the chacmool statue was crafted to replicate this new type of offering.

As time went on, other things were suggested as the sacrifice offering on the statue, as more and more warriors decided not to spear their privates, and gradually more and more chacmools were found at other Mayan ruins.

So now, each and every time i go to the NGV, i make the effort to go upstairs and acknowledge Chacmool- smiling at the ingenious warrior to kept his head in the same moment of madness that he speared himself.



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