This is a part of the May Synchroblog (where many bloggers write about the same theme) on Duality. See below for a list of other blogs that participated and check them out.
I jumped into this thing late, but wanted to find the right perspective for it. The answer literally fell into my lap. I am a big Raiders of the Lost Ark fan. I know it is loosely based on facts, but who cares. When I was kid, I wanted to be Indiana Jones. My name and state didn't have the right sound, though. North Carolina Alford just doesn't have the same ring to it. So I gave up a career in archeology and became a teacher instead.
Anyway, I'm at home watching my new DVD of Raiders and I can't help but wonder if the idol in the beginning scene has any basis in real life. There is a basis for the other stuff (the ark, the grail, the Sankara stones, the crystal skulls), so why not. Being a bit lacking in Hovitos mythology, I had to do some research.
What I found is that this idol (of a woman giving birth) is based on one of two Aztec fertility goddesses: Omecihuatl or Tlazolteotl. Both deal with duality and I'll handle the most frequently cited one first.
Omecihuatl is a dual deity. In fact her title is Lady of Duality (see, I told you this stuff fell into my lap). She is never seen by herself. She must have her brother/twin/life partner with her at all times. They represent the male/female duality which the world must have to survive. She and her brother (Omecutli) make up one deity known as Ometeotl. They preside over Omeyocan (Two Place), which is the thirteenth and highest heaven. Sometimes they are referred to as Tloque Nahuaque, which means "Owner of the Near and Far." Yes, there will be a test and you will need to know spelling.
You see here a real statue of the two. Ometeotl lived in a world of darkness. All she or he or they could see were the eyes of monsters glittering around them (like on Scooby Doo). They did what anyone would do stuck in a world of darkness with monster eyes all around. That's right. They poked the eyes. What happened was that the monsters became stars when their eyes were poked (wish I had known that as a kid). They got all into it and made a bunch of stars.
Finally, they found a monster that was all eyes and mouths and made the land and sea out of it. Since this is mythology and we have a brother/sister pair, what happens next is inevitable. They give birth to several children and completely ruin their school life by giving them impossible to pronounce names (Xipe Totec, Huitzilopochtil, Quetzalcoatl, Tezcatlipoca, and Coatlicue). Some of these go on to become a sun to light the world and end up destroying the world. After destroying the world four times, they decide to use a human to be the sun. We live in this world now and if we are not careful, this too shall end.
The biggest problem with this is that the statue looks nothing like the film statue and there were no temples to worship Omecihuatl. I only had other people's word on the Omechihuatl so I continued to research and found another goddess this child birthing idol could be. I found Tlazolteotl - the Two Faced Eater of Filth. Her statue looks a lot like the idol in the movie and is probably the one being referenced to despite the popularity of Omecihuatl. Tlazolteotl is a goddess of filth; however, she is also a goddess of forgiveness. This is how it works: when people are dying, she comes along and eats their filth thus cleansing them and granting them forgiveness. When she is not eating filth, she is usually seen giving birth in her role as a fertility goddess. She goes beyond duality - her roles are: goddess of fertility filth, sex, witches, carnal desires, earth, childbirth, prostitution, temptation, gambling, and purification. She is able to do all these things since she changes like the moon. In each stage she is a bit different.
Although this is supposed to be a synchroblog, as usual, I am out of synch and am a bit late. Thanks to A. Venefica for still letting me participate. Check out http://symbolic-meanings.com/2008/04/21/synchroblogging-symbolic-style/ for more blogs in this synchroblog.