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VIRTUAL - Underwater Panthers and Their Place in the Native American Cosmos

April 7, 2021 Eastern Time

This is an online event.

AIA Society: Gainesville

Lecturer: Megan C. Kassabaum

Archaeologists generally agree that certain beliefs about the cosmos are broadly shared among indigenous peoples of the Americas. Though the details vary wildly, the world is generally seen as consisting of three layers—the Above World, the Middle World, and the Beneath World. While we live our everyday lives in the Middle World, while the Above and Beneath Worlds are inhabited by a variety of supernatural beings. One of the most intriguing characters to inhabit the Beneath World is the underwater panther, a composite creature with both feline and serpentine characteristics that is associated with the dangerous yet beneficial powers of rivers, waterfalls, whirlpools and caves. This talk examines both archaeological depictions and ethnographic stories about the underwater panther as a window into Native North American belief systems.

Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic (for lay reader):

  • Townsend, Richard F., and Robert V. Sharp (eds.) 2004. Hero, Hawk, and Open Hand: American Indian Art of the Ancient Midwest and South. Art Institute of Chicago in association with Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut.
  • Saunders, Nicholas J. 1998. Icons of Power: Feline Symbolism in the Americas. Routledge, London, England.

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April 7, 2021
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Megan Daly


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