I was astonished to see this mask, representing an ancient, evil bat-deity named Camazotz. The resemblance between it and the comic-book figure Batman is uncanny.
Collective Spark reports:
Camazotz, (meaning ‘death bat’ in the Kʼiche’ Mayan language of Guatemala) originated deep in Mesoamerican mythology as a dangerous cave-dwelling bat creature. A cult following for the creature began amongst the Zapotec Indians of Oaxaca, Mexico and the figure was later adopted into the pantheon of the Maya Quiche tribe and the legends of the bat god were later recorded in Maya literature.
. . .
In the Maya culture, the bat god Camazotz is linked to death. Camazotz is also the name of a monstrous creature which inhabited a cave called “the house of bats” in the Popol Vuh. Most scholars believe that Camazotz was inspired by the common vampire bat, but others have suggested that it was based on a giant vampire bat that (probably) went extinct sometime during the Pleistocene or Holocene periods.
In the Popol Vuh, an ancient Mayan mythological text, Zotzilaha was the name of a cave inhabited by the Camazotz, a monster with a roughly humanoid body, the head of a bat, and a nose that resembled a flint knife. The monster was said to attack victims by the neck and decapitate them. In the Popol Vuh, it is recorded that this creature decapitated the Maya hero Hunahpu. Camazotz is also one of the four animal demons responsible for wiping out mankind during the age of the first sun.
There’s more at the link, and very interesting reading it is, too.
One has to wonder whether artist Bob Kane, who developed the image of the cartoon Batman, ever saw that mask, or any other images of Camazotz or related beings in South American mythology. The resemblance is so strong as to convince me he must have had a previous memory in mind when he first drew Batman. What say you, readers? Does anyone know for sure?
And here I thought Camazotz was just a cool name Madeleine L'Engle made up in A Wrinkle in Time for the planet where IT was….
I could see batman wearing that. That is weird
Very possible…even probable!
Per Travis Clark who knows this stuff:
Seen this bunch of times. It's a modern artist's take on batman. The artist is Mayan and wanted to do a Camazotz/Batman mashup using the techniques of ancient Mayans. It keeps getting passed around as if it were an actual Mayan artifact though, much to his chagrin. He never intended it to be mistaken for a Mayan artifact, it was just a fun project.
I'm no Batman fan, but I really like that piece.
@Francis Turner: Appreciate the update on the Batman thing. Disappointing, but I'd rather have the truth than continue in (well intentioned) error.