Spiritual leaders were specialists, guardians of the social order, who were believed to move between worlds and transform themselves into other forms and identities. Each new identity brought with it a different perspective or way of seeing the world: as hunter, prey, warrior, enemy or ancestor.
Pre-Hispanic peoples believed that by wearing objects representing animals, they would acquire the characteristics and skills of the animals represented and adored.
Spanish evangelizers arriving with the conquistadors, saw the jaguar as an idol used by the natives to worship the devil. This erroneous association between the catholic devil and the Amerindian jaguar drove the Crown to command the destruction of the material heritage associated with the great American feline.