Article by Sam McTernan
Meet Camazotz the Ancient Batman from Mesoamerican mythology. He was terrifying.
Batman has become a massive cultural icon in his 80-year history, spawning movies, TV, merchandise and of course, comic books. However, it seems there’s been a Batman around a little bit longer.
Camazotz (meaning ‘Death Bat’ in the K’iche Mayan language) originated in the Mesoamerican mythology as a dangerous cave-dwelling bat creature. He gained a following amongst the Zapotec Indians of Oaxaca, Mexico and was later adapted into the pantheon of Mayan literature.
In many cultures, bats are considered a symbol of night and death. Added to a somewhat off-putting appearance in some species, they are usually disliked by many humans. Armed with the knowledge that one species sucks blood (the vampire bat), its easy to see how such legends began.
The bat god Camazotz is linked to death in Mayan culture and also inhabited a cave called “the house of the bats” in Popol Vuh. Many scholars believe the vampire bat to be the main inspiration for Camazotz, whilst others believe it to be inspired by a now extinct species of giant vampire bats.
In 1988, a fossil was found of such a species in Venezuela, it was 25% bigger than the common vampire bat. Although an exact date of extinction in unknown, it is believed that humans may have encountered them.
In modern times, several sightings of giant bats have been reported. As far back as 1947, there have been claims of these flying monsters. In 1975, a string of animal mutilations were attributed to flying grey, bird-like creatures. In the 1970s, a Texan farmer claimed he encountered a bat with a short beak and the face of a gorilla.
Although there isn’t any evidence to support the claims, could Camazotz have returned? The bat god is no stranger to the comic book world either, having starred in Mike Mignola’s (Gotham by Gaslight) Hellboy in Mexico series.
It would be pretty cool if Batman and Camazotz crossed paths. Is this a story you’d like to read? Let us know.
The Featured image is a sculpture created by Mexican artist Kimbal