handprint at kabah

What better way to begin than with this poignant sign of an unknown Maya reaching out through the centuries to touch our world. (I say to begin because earlier posts below were transfered from my site rightreading.com to this new domain, and this post marks the beginning of buriedmirror.com as a new domain.)

This is a photo I took in February of a red handprint on the interior of the arch at the Maya ruins of Kabah in the Puuc region of the Yucatan. Most Maya structures were brightly painted, and this handprint was left in red paint. The handprint was originally obscured by a stucco surface, which has peeled away. Similar handprints in blue paint can be seen at Uxmal, about 20 kilometers northeast.

The arch was the opening to a sacbe, a grand road or walkway, seven kilometers wide at the north and ten kilometers wide here, which connected the great cities of Uxmal and Kabah. A similar arch marks the Uxmal end of the sacbe. A photo of the Kabah arch is below.

As it happens, the name “Kabah” includes the Maya word for “hand,” “kab” (pronounced “kah” by Maya today). The combination “kab-ah” has given Mayanists trouble, and its meaning is disputed. Some say it should be translated as “strong hand,” others as “skilled hand,” others as “sculpting hand,” others as “snake hand” or “mole hand.”

Did the ancient Maya painter imagine that the print of his hand would reach out to distant generations? If so, how might he have imagined us?

the arch at kabah

click images for larger views