buried mirror: latest reflections

mesoamerica and the maya world

Category: chichen itza

Photo Wednesday

chac mool, chichen itza

This fiery chac-mool image comes from shapeshift’s photostream.


Pink Floyd and Chichen Itza

I’m not a big Pink Floyd fan, but the juxtaposition of their music with a family visit to the Maya site expresses something of how the public views Chichen Itza.

Mayan Theater, Los Angeles

mayan theater, los angeles facade

Posting is a little light while I’m on the road. Meanwhile, for your amusement, here are a couple of images of the facade of the Mayan Theater (1040 Hill Street, near 11th Street) in Los Angeles.

The decorative motifs on the facade of the theater were inspired by elements of the late Maya sites of Uxmal and Chichen Itza in the Yucatan. The theater opened in 1927 with a performance of George Gershwin’s Oh, Kay! Over the years the neighborhood declined, and it became a site for porno films. I think now it’s a concert venue.

I went to a party at the Mayan Theater once. Booker T and the MGs Junior Walker and the All Stars performed.

mayan theater, los angeles -- detail of facade


Supposedly 45 million people have voted on a new list of the seven wonders of the world, and currently Chichen Itza is ranking number two.

Someone explain to me why anyone cares. Why would 45 million people vote on this?

Chichen Itza is wonderful, but even among Maya ruins whether it is more wonderful than Uxmal, Palenque, Tikal, or Copan is questionable, to say the least.

UPDATE: Actually, on reflection I think I do care about this. It would be better if Chichen Itza did not make the list, as it’s already suffering from heavy tourist traffic. So, if you’re the sort of person who is likely to vote, please vote for whatever is currently below it in the results.

UPDATE2, 7/7/07: Results are in. Whatever.

The Observatory at Chichen Itza

el caracol, the observatory at chichen itza

I’m having some trouble getting my Maya materials online because there are so many of them, and there’s just so little time. So, we’ll do this one building at a time. This is “El Caracol” (“the snail,” so called in Spanish for its winding internal staircase), which is called “The Observatory” in English.

It’s not hard to see how it gets that name, because it looks a lot like a modern observatory. It’s quite unusual for a Maya building, with its round dome placed on a square base. Slits in the dome allowed viewing the sky at the cardinal and subcardinal directions. Certainly the movements of celestial objects were important to the Maya, and their astronomical reckoning was quite advanced (witness their highly accurate calendar). But I’m not sure that we can say definitively how this building was used in its particulars. As with all Maya sites, a great deal of fancy has come to surround the ruins, making it difficult to separate fancy from fact.

The earliest parts of the Observatory were probably constructed in the ninth century. The building underwent several modifications over the succeeding centuries.

Click the small image in the post to see several more images of the Observatory.

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