Bat sculpture from Izabal or Alta Verapaz
I thank Dr Guillermo Mata for providing these helpful snapshots. I do not know the origin of this sculpture, nor where it is today. But the presence of these images is very helpful.
Keep in mind that the Chama region is not exactly right next door to either Izabal or Alta Verapaz. But I would expect to find more actual giant False Vampires throughout Alta Verapaz and Izabal since these departamentos (and El Peten) are where you find giant Ceiba pentandra trees with hollow cores (you also get lots more of these immense Ceiba pentandra trees with “cave doors” throughout the Costa Sur, far to the south of traditional Classic Maya areas.
Bat on Codex Style vase, VIGUA Museum
This Codex Style VIGUA vase 238 was photographed with a BetterLight rollout camera in the museum in Antigua more years ago than I can remember. This vase is preserved in Guatemala. The advantage of the rollouts by FLAAR is that the digital rollout system we use does not distort the image.
Bats on polychrome Maya pottery
Most Codex Style vase paintings are black or brown on off-white background (so not really “poly”chrome). But you can also find renditions of bats on normal polychrome paintings. Codex Style vases tend to have been found in far northern Peten and adjacent southern Campeche. Traditional polychrome paintings tend to be found throughout the rest of El Peten and adjacent Belize. Since many vases were traded in ancient times you can also find polychrome “Peten” vases, bowls, and plates in Copan to the southeast or Campeche and Yucatan or Quintana Roo to the north.
So “Peten” style does not mean a vase or plate was found in Guatemala.
Bats in Maya art, hieroglyphis, and myths would be a good dissertation topic
A PhD dissertation topic of bats would allow a student to learn about
- Epigraphy (Mayan hieroglyphic writing)
- Mayan languages (the word for bat in each language)
- Mayan ethnography (myths and local beliefs about bats)
- Ethnozoology (learn about habits of actual bats)
- Archaeology (bats on vases, bowls, plates, figurines, sculptures)
- Iconography (how to recognize bats in art, and what is the meaning of the associated symbols)
- Cross-cultural sharing and differences (bats in various areas of Mesoamerica
“Maya civilization” is more than just sherds and artifacts. The Classic Maya were real actual people; millions of them. They had stories about their vampire bats equally as interesting as tele-novelas about vampire friends today.
First posted July 2014