The jaguar is an important symbolic animal here in Mexico. Archeologists have discovered stone and jade carvings of jaguars that are more than 3000 years old. Mayan rulers showed their power by wearing jaguar skins, claws and fangs. Images of jaguars appear in ancient Mayan hieroglyphic texts and there is a Temple of the Jaguar at the Mayan ruins in Chichen Itza.
In Mayan mythology the jaguar was the ruler of the underworld. Mayan sorcerers could transform into jaguars to face their fears or confront their enemies.
After the Spanish take over of Mexico the local Mayan people used the jaguar as a symbol of their fight against colonization. Because of all that history and symbolism I see jaguar images everywhere here in the Yucatan and I mean everywhere! In the last few days I have even found jaguars in bathrooms in two different places.
The Folk Art Museum in Merida is located in an old home. Each room of the house features artists from different provinces of Mexico. There happens to be a bathroom in the section of the house featuring artists from Chiapas and so two jaguars created by artist Alberto Bautista Gomez are on display there posed just in front of the urinal and toilet. On Friday I was on an art gallery walk in Merida and asked to use the washroom at the Soho Art Gallery. I was sitting on the toilet and looked up and lo and behold there was another jaguar looking right at me!
If you visit the Yucatan province in Mexico be prepared to see jaguars everywhere! Including in the bathroom!