Maya Cosmos, and 13 months of 20 days each in the Tzolkin. There are also 13 temples on the several levels, each devoted to a different Maya god. While there are various pyramidal structures on different levels, the entire Acropolis is itself one vast, stepped pyramid. As such, it is comparable in grandeur with such famous structures as the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan near Mexico City. At level seven, the very top, stand two pyramids. On the right, the Temple of the Smoking Mirror is the tallest part of the overall structure, reaching 80 meters (262 ft) above the Plaza level. The Pyramid of the Sun, by contrast, rises 75 meters (246 ft). To the left of the Smoking Mirror Temple is the Temple of War. These two temples represent the two most important responsibilities of Toniná's ruling elite: control over the agricultural economy, and the conduct of war. Politics, religion, war, and the all-important cultivation of maiz (corn) were seamlessly interwoven in ancient Maya societies. In the lower right quadrant of the photo, you can see palaces and administrative buildings, with their latticed roof combs. These were the residences and offices of the elite.
El Palacio del Inframundo
Maya cross represents the World Tree, with roots in Xibalba, a trunk that represents daily reality, and a broad canopy of branches (the cross piece) which represents the heavens. The ancient Maya believed that the Ceiba tree, found widely in their world, was the earthly manifestation of the World Tree. Even today, Maya loggers are reluctant to cut down a Ceiba.
Stelae were important features of many Maya cities between about 400 AD to 900 AD. Some were carved, while others were decorated with stucco designs. The one above was probably covered with stucco which has worn or fallen away over the centuries. Stelae were closely associated with the concept of divine kingship, and were used to detail dynastic histories, to commemorate important evens such as military victories or the accession of a new ruler, and to display the images of great kings or other persons of importance.
Wall of the Grecas
represents Kulkulkan, the feathered serpent, known in non-Maya areas as Quetzalcoatl. Other archaeologists suggest that the "X" design represents Witz, the Sacred Mountain, and the three levels of Maya spiritual thought. The design reminded me of others I have seen at the Mixtec ruin of Mitla near Oaxaca, a state which borders Chiapas, and from which such designs could have migrated through trade. Above the wall, you can see several columns that were part of a structure known as the Palace of the Grecas and of War, or the Palace of the Stepped Frets. All these different names and interpretations show how much we have yet to learn after more than 150 years of archaeological studies of this site.
The Venus Throne
The Water Shrine
Conches were used as trumpets to draw the attention of Chaac, the rain god.
Temple of the Earth Monster
Hero Twins, Hunapu (One Blowgunner) and Xbalanque (Jaguar Sun) had to enter the Sacred First Mountain's cave and match wits with the Lords of the Underworld. After undergoing numerous trials and tests, they tricked the two most important of the Lords into allowing themselves to be sacrificed. The rest of the Lords fled in terror and thereafter only had authority over the Underworld.
This completes Part 16 of my Chiapas series. Next week, I will continue our survey of the Acropolis at Toniná, focusing on the temples, pyramids, palaces, and stucco sculptures of the upper levels. I hope you enjoyed this posting. I always appreciate feedback, and if you would like you may either leave a comment in the section below, or email me directly.
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Hasta luego, Jim