Animation of the Lanzón Stela depicting the principal deity of Chavín, created from laser scan data
Lanzón Gallery InformationLocated at the center of Building B, the Lanzón Gallery is a subterranean gallery that houses the Lanzón Stela in a cruciform, internal chamber. The Lanzón Stela was the principal cult object of the original temple at Chavín de Huántar; it has been interpreted as the supreme deity of Chavín and is also called the “Smiling God”. The Lanzón could also have symbolized trade, fertility, dualism, and humankind’s interaction with nature.
The 4.5m (15 feet)-tall obelisk is intricately carved from a large piece of white granite in a roughly lance-like shape. It depicts a human-feline hybrid with claws, writhing snakes for hair and eyebrows, fangs curved sideways in a smile. Other carvings at Chavín de Huántar depict the Lanzón clutching a Strombus shell in one hand and a Spondylus shell in the other, which has been interpreted as a possible reference to fertility and the duality of the sexes.
The Lanzón Gallery was built over three or four construction episodes. Originally, the gallery was probably an open rectangular court with the Lanzón standing in the center. As the mound grew around it, the court was partially filled in to create spaces narrow enough to place lintel stones across as a roof. The Lanzón protrudes into a second chamber above, allowing one positioned at its edge to ‘speak’ for the Stela; however, most evidence for this was destroyed as a result of the landslide in 1945 that reburied much of the site.