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Note the horizontal lines painted on the cheeks. The lines represent the whiskers of the jaguar. The jaguar has had an important influence on Matsés society and one of the two moieties is the Jaguar Clan. The jaguar is an important symbol in Matses religion and society. Being animists, the Matses believe that both good and evil jaguar animal spirits exist. The Matses occasionally hunt jaguars, and some people have scars resulting from encounters with big cats. Incredibly, an attack of a jaguar on children inside of a Matses house has been documented. Curiously, the meat of the jaguar is not consumed; however they do use the teeth to make necklaces and the pelt is used in the jaguar ceremony.

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Text © 2007, Photos © 2007, Bjorn Svensson, all rights reserved, Jaguar.