This enormous stone sculpture, known as a cuauhxicalli, was carved from volcanic rock by Aztec artisans, in the ferocious likeness of a snarling jaguar. The cat stares menacingly, baring its fangs, its nostrils wide and ears drawn back. The posture of its body indicates that this effigy was intended to portray an animal preparing to pounce on its prey.
The cuauhxicalli was an altar found in most Aztec shrines in either the form of an eagle or jaguar. It contains a bowl in the middle of the carving, which was used as a vessel where high priests deposited the hearts extracted from sacrificial victims, which would then be burned as an offering to the gods.
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