Vision Serpent: Lintel 15 at Yaxchilan, depicting Lady Wak Tuun during a bloodletting rite
For the ancient Maya, the Vision Serpent was a very important social and religious entity
Serpents in general were seen as having importance, the shedding of their skin being a symbol of birth and renewal. Serpents were also seen as the means by which the celestial bodies moved across the sky.
During bloodletting rituals, visions took the form of a giant serpent, with the ancestor or god being invoked appearing from the open mouth. The Vision Serpent became a link between the spirit and physical worlds.
Perhaps the most famous depiction of the Vision Serpent comes from Lintel 15 at Yaxchilan, which depicts Lady Wak Tuun during a bloodletting rite, herself carrying a basket with implements used in the ritual, with the serpent emerging from a basket containing strips of bark paper.
Photograph courtesy Institute of Archaeology (NICH) Belize
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