This is a sacred monument of the Chavín culture (Peru, 900-250 BCE) called the Raimondi Stela.
The second image is a clearer drawing of it, and that same drawing flipped over.
I’m totally fucking blown away by this thing?? I saw the drawings first while reading a text for a class, and I didn’t even realize they were the same image until I read a caption underneath. It’s soooo cleverly designed, it reads SO differently depending on its orientation. The composition draws your eye so differently in each form, there must have been so much thought put into making this thing!
I’m no expert on this culture, clearly, but apparently the first is an image of a god on earth, and the inverse image is that same god as he descends from the heavens- his grimace becomes two grins, and his headdress becomes a pillar of laughing animal heads. The god is intended to be represented as having a duality of earthliness and heavenliness.
It’s so fucking amazing, oh my god. Its staffs are made out of faces and snakes. Its head has snakes coming out of the sides, and ascending snakes from the headdress descend with the god when inverted. Its beard is a face. Hell, even its BELT is a face. I’m positive I’m missing some things here, this thing is so intricately made.
And even beyond just its amazing design, I’m completely in the dark about its religious significance to the Chavín people, or how it was made. It was probably even more amazing than I can even realize!