J is for Jumping Jaguar

We are pleased to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/). The Story Crossroads theme for this year is Dual Natures in Folktales Around the World – opposites, contradictions & paradoxes.


From Mayan people

We don’t know as much about the Mayan people as most cultures. Sometimes we discover stories or aspects that reveal more. Out in Mesoamerica, the Mayan people built many amazing buildings and inventions that baffle us today.

They made rubber. They built observatories to study the stars. Canals. The concept of a straight road. Amazing, right?

Perhaps a jaguar and a skunk are a baffling mix to reflect the innovative thinking of the Mayans. Then again, many stories around the world have interesting interactions with talking animals.

By the way, skunks are omnivores. They eat meat and plants. They tend to eat rodents, worms, and plants. Not antlered prey…as you will need to know.

What is so fascinating? What dualities have surfaced?

I was surprised that a jaguar and a skunk could get along. We have a predator/prey situation. Yet, that is not what happens. We have assumptions that the little skunk will be eaten by the jaguar. As I read it, I was waiting for this to be a cautionary tale much like the story when someone helps a snake and the snake rewards the help by biting or killing the helper. When the jaguar asks to take the little skunk alone, I thought, “This is it! Gained the trust and then the betrayal.” Warning: this story is still a cautionary tale. Just not what I was expecting.

The mother skunk mistakes her son’s dead smile with laughing at her. Laughter is symbolic of life. Thus, we have death/life that seems to appear at the same time.

50-word-or-less summary:

Jaguar teaches Skunk to hunt. Skunk excited! Jaguar says scratch tummy when antlered prey comes while he naps. Skunk does. Jaguar takes down prey. Skunk in awe. Jaguar takes meat to Skunk’s Mother. Meat gone. Skunk hunts alone. Waits for antlered prey. Falls. Dies with mouth open. Mother finds son.

Finding the Story: 

Version of the story – found here

Strange/censored version of the story? – found here

Prezi from student’s report on this story (with fun observations) – found here

Just found it funny that this book exists (and not to do with the story – but…you’ll see) – found here

Please share thoughts in the comments. While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings. See quick list of programs here.

As for our past A to Z Challenges…

While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has been “dual” in our offerings of our hybrid summit & festival on May 9-12, 2022 – yes, in-person and virtual – and would be honored for you to join us. Explore the schedule and register here: http://www.storycrossroads.org/Festival

Thanks to funding from National Endowment for the Arts; National Endowment for the Humanities; Western States Arts Federation; Utah Division of Arts and Museums/Utah Legislature; Utah Humanities; Youth, Educators, Storytellers (YES); City of Murray; Zoo, Arts & Parks (ZAP) of Salt Lake County; Salt Lake City Arts Council; Clever Octopus; Desert High Brain Trust; and people like you.

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2 thoughts on “J is for Jumping Jaguar

  1. That is interesting having the jaguar and the skunk! Poor skunk. I wonder if skunks didn’t have their odor yet. I mean, in legend, that it was given later.

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