MIDWESTERN EPIGRAPHIC NEWSLETTER , Volume 27, Number 2 , 2010
THE SUN WORSHIP MURAL AT CAHOKIA
by John J White , III
Ancient Science and Technology Center
Midwestern Epigraphic Society
Columbus , Ohio
In late November, 1993, I took a field trip to the Greater St Louis area. The major experiences for a raw beginner in museum studies were the
St Louis Art Museum and the Indian Museum near Collinsville, Illinois called
Cahokia. The recent article on an alleged Pig-soldier describes a good find
made at the St Louis Art Museum.1 At Cahokia I was impressed by a large Sun
worship mural that was a composite impression of the ancient resident
culture (700-1400 CE) that was a segment of the Mississippian culture of the
Greater Southeastern United States during the Medieval period. The modern
designers of the Cahokia Mural by Laura West did a high quality job of
representing this old culture and religion.
My research interests have turned toward the interpretation of Sun
religion as a simple addition to the older Earth Mother Culture. My
findings indicate this is the correct view of the majority Sun religion.
There is a minority Sun religion that went in an entirely different
direction. Mississippian Sun Religion is similar to that of Greater Mexico.
Its origins are connected historically with the emergence of the Aztecs.
The situation raises the question of whether Mexican Sun religion was
introduced by the Aztecs or was practiced by older residents. I favor the
The mural portrays a typical sunrise ceremony for PIASO
(The-Father-God) with a Chief, a Head Priest, and two Assistants. The flute
(phallus of the Sun) conjures the Sun (god of the day), whereas the rattles
conjure the Serpent (god of the night). Equal arm crosses honor the Earth
Mother. The head priest wears a curved head-ornament symbol of the Serpent.
1. JJ White, "The Pig-Soldier from Moche Appears to be a Fox After All", Midwestern Epigraphic Journal 21, 92-94 (2007).
Figure 1. Sun Worship Mural at Cahokia State Park.
Figure 2. Closeup of the Indian Chief and the Assistant Priest with the Flute on the Cahokia Mural.
Figure 3. Closeup of the Assistant Priest with the Rattles.
Figure 4. Closeup of the Head Priest on the Cahokia Mural.