Mexico 1968 – Chac Mool (unofficial mascot)

Designer: unknown

In 1968 a red jaguar mascot, appeared at the Mexico City Olympics, but the jaguar was not marketed with the appeal and enthusiasm of its more recent counterparts. The jaguar was selected because of its association with a geographical area where the Mayan culture thrived. In the ruins of “Chicken Itza”, there is a stone figure known as the ‘Red Jaguar’. It is made of limestone painted in red with inlaid turquoise disks and is known as the ‘Mayan Jaguar’.

Chac-Mool is the name given to a type of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican stone statue. The Chac-Mool depicts a human figure in a position of reclining with the head up and turned to one side, holding a tray over the stomach. The meaning of the position or the statue itself remains unknown. Chac-Mool statues are found in or around temples in Toltec and other post-Classic central Mexican sites, and in post-Classic Maya civilization sites with heavy Toltec influence, such as Chichen Itza. The ancient name for these type of sculptures is unknown. The name Chac-Mool is attributed to Augustus Le Plongeon, who excavated one of the statues at Chichen Itza in 1875. Le Plongeon named it Chaacmol, which he translated from the Maya as “thundering paw.” Le Plongeon claimed the statue was a depiction of a former ruler of Chichen Itza. Le Plongeon’s sponsor, Stephen Salisbury of Worcester, Massachusetts, published Le Plongeon’s find, but revised the spelling to “Chac-Mool.” Chac-Mools should not be confused with Chaac, one of the leading deities in Maya mythology associated primarily with the phenomena of rain and thunder, and with whom they are not associated. Chac-Mools can be found throughout Central Mexico and Yucatán. In addition to Tula and Chichen Itza, sites known for Chac-Mools include Mexico City, Cempoala, Tlaxcala, and Quiriguá in Guatemala.