|Chacmool at Chichen Itza|
These sculptures appear all over Mexico from as early as the 9th century AD. The original, ancient name used by the Mayan and Aztecs is not known. The name Chacmool was given in 1875 by Augustus Le Plongeon who excavated one of the statues at Chichen Itza. The name translates from the Mayan as 'thundering paw' as he found the statue buried beneath the Platform of the Eagles and Jaguars. The Chacmool is thought to be used as an alter to place offerings to the gods. Typically these reclining figures are holding a bowl on their stomach where offerings of tamales, tortillas, tobacco and in some cases human hearts are placed. Some believed the Chacmool depicted slain warriors, others say they represent a defenseless, passive appearance of a Mayan captive. A full frontal view of a face is rare in Mayan art except among representations of captives.
I loved the wild beauty of Ek' Balam, and that it still felt somewhat hidden within the Mayan jungle. We climbed the main pyramid straight up the narrow stone steps giving us an endless view across the tree tops. It was breathtaking. Literally. Once I looked down from the top I nearly panicked at the thought of how I was going to get down. In the end my daughter and I decided the safest route down was on our butts one step at a time. There is no shame in safety!