Christiane Clados
Nasca Drawings Collection

Heroes in Nasca Iconography

Feline Man

Nasca 1-5 paintings portrays one of the most important characters of Early and Middle Nasca iconography labeled here as Feline Man. Half human half feline, he is a composite being, unusual in its low degree of mixture of animal and human forms compared with other mythical beings of the Early and Middle Nasca Period. The characteristic traits of Feline Man are simply a cat-like head, because he is wearing a mouth mask, and a human body (CL 62, 77, 80, 327, 331, 332, 333, 336). As in the case of Lieske's God F corresponding to Moche iconography (1992, 43-50 Donnan's Wrinkle Face) Feline Man can be found in connection with range of actions. In several scenes (CL 62, 77, 189, 331-333, 245) Feline Man can be seen fighting against a variety of opponents (Supernatural Confrontation). Various anthropomorphic beings count among his most important opponents (Anthropomorphic Mythical Being, Standing Anthropomorphic Mythical Being, Seated Anthropomorphic Mythical Being), as well as humans (CL 77, 189, 327). One of the most outstanding scenes shows Feline Man grasping the snake hair of the Standing Anthropomorphic Mythical Being indicating a physical conflict between both characters (CL 245). Both physical conflict as a structural feature of narratives, and Feline Man embedded in a variety of fighting actions, supports not only the hypothesis that the different scenes on pottery and other media show single moments of action, but that they also need to be seen as individual units within a wider complex of a painted narrative. It also supports the likelihood that the figure of Feline Man works as a link between single and unconnected scenes (Clados 2002b).

Principle Couple

Large hollow naked female figurines and solid male figurines appear in Phase 6. The female figurines commonly display tattoos/painting on the body. Most of the paintings surround the genital area portraying the Killer Whale Mythical Being, Surrounded Heads and Rayed Faces (Surrounded Feline Head, Rayed Feline Face), and trophy heads (CL 366-369, 375). Some female figurines portray a woman giving birth (CL 366, 368, 369). One vessel shows a man and woman seated on a platform of which the walls show a guanaco hunt while the woman is depicted in the process of childbirth (CL 175). Another depicts both man and woman together standing in front of the entrance of a temple-like structure of which the side walls show the motif of the Killer Whale Mythical Being (CL 208). Because they appear as couple and are associated with supernatural beings like Rayed Faces and the Killer Whale Mythical Being that stands for the ocean, an interpretation as Principal Couple similar to the Inca mythic couple Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo seems plausible.

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