Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Jaguar Children: The worship of those with Down syndrome in ancient culture

The Olmec civilization thrived from about 1500 BCE to about 400 BCE in the south-central American regions that are now Vera Cruz and Tabasco, Mexico. They are believed to be the first of the Mesoamerican civilizations from which most other civilizations developed. Many artistic representations of the Olmec people bear decidedly Ethiopian features, leading many researchers to speculate that the fore-bearers of the Olmecs were great travelers. It is also known from the archeological information derived from ancient Olmec cities that the civilization had trade routes spanning at least as far as Guatemala.

 A depiction of what was likely an Olmec with "typical" features.

It is believed the religion of the Olmec most closely resembles the Shamanism of the Native American cultures in which humans can take on certain features of revered animals. In the case of the Olmec, the most powerful animal was the Jaguar.

Interestingly, many of the carvings and artworks of this culture depict what are believed to be a near-deity known as Jaguar Children – a child whose mother is human and whose father is a jaguar. (Don't ask me how that works!?!)

The distinguishing features of the revered Jaguar Child are a flattened nose, almond-shaped eyes and the figures are generally depicted as being a bit over-weight with shortened limbs. Some have rather pointy teeth and on many of the carvings the ears are covered or depicted as being low-set on the head.

Note the tell-tale extra fold of flesh below the almond-shaped eyes.

The Jaguar Children were also regularly depicted in strange contortions illustrating that these children had surprising flexibility and the "agility of a cat." 

Judging by the number of carvings celebrating children of the jaguar, researchers believe these individuals must have been a true center-piece to the culture. 

In today's world we know that individuals with Down syndrome may bear certain physical features such as almond-shaped eyes with an extra "puff" of skin under each, shorter limbs, a slightly flattened nose bridge, hypotonia (or super-flexibility) and a predisposition to hypothyroidism which can lead to weight issues. Many of our kids (like, mine) also have rather pointy teeth. I guess we could say our children look like Olmec demigods! (I don't know about you, but I think the Olmec were on to something!)

 Feel free to worship me!

And I didn't even have to sleep with a jaguar (thank goodness!).

Here is a circa 1974 research paper that explores the theory of the Jaguar Children, or "Were-Jaguar" in depth.

What Wiki has to say.

You can find more information, pictures of Olmec art and other opinions just by Googling "Olmec."

And please enjoy all the little deities in your life!
(Disclaimer: this comment is meant expressly as entertainment and is not intended to represent any religious notion, belief or otherwise.)

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  1. You are know crowned, Queen of the Coolest Down syndrome Tid Bit of the month!!!!

    That is so interesting! What I'd like to know is , did the mom of these jaguar kids actually own up to sleeping with a jaguar. And what did her hubby think about that? HMMMM

  2. I'm sure if there was any problem, all mom would have to say was, "Look, bud! If I had tried to say 'No!' that thing would have eaten me for lunch! And if weren't for him, you wouldn't have an adorable demigod running around the house and all those cool gifts from the neighbors!"

  3. Would you mind if I shared some of this on my blog, while giving you full credit, of course.

    Tammy and Parker

  4. Tammy - go right ahead! This is such cool information I think we should share it with as many people as possible!

  5. I am really appreciating all this wonderful history.

    The comparison with the jaguar statue was most enlightening.

    (And I do understand it's for entertainment, but it's educational too).

  6. Oh the best part of this was that you didn't have to sleep with a jaguar! ha ha That is so something I would of said!

  7. Thank you for this piece!! I am writing a paper on this topic and was finding it difficult to find information. The article you linked to is perfect! Do you remember where your pictures came from? They would help tremendously!


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