Ek Balam referred to as “the black jaguar” or “bright star jaguar” in maya, is located near the colonial city of Valladolid. Ek Balam flourished culturally and economically during the Late Classic Period 700 – 1000 A.D. EK Balam is one of the most impressive ceremonial centers in the Yucatan peninsula, witnessing the most ornate decoration of temples and plazas. As you walk along the tropical vegetation you can admire the unique sculptures in high relief, especially the recently restored jaguar mouth sculpture in the front of the main temple. Walk through the ball court (Pok Ta Pok) one of the architectural icons of the Maya culture. This ancient Maya City had its glory before Chichen Itza. It was during this height that the Late Yumcab ceramic complex (750-1050/1100 CE) that dominated the architecture and pottery of Ek’ Balam. The city is surrounded by defensive walls, the entrance arc and the oval palace which contained burial relics, is aligned to connect with cosmological ceremonies. The Twins are two mirroring temples on either side, then the chapel and a carved stela which depicts a ruler of Ek Balam, possibly Ukit Kan Le’k Tok. The Acropolis on the North side of the site is the largest structure at Ek’ Balam and is believed to contain the tomb of one of the rulers Ukit Kan Le’k Tok. El Trono (The Throne) is this temple in which Ukit Kan Le’k Tok’ is supposedly buried, the doorway is in the shape of a jaguars mouth. Take these sacred Sacbé roads which stem off of the center in the four cardinal directions, as “four-part cosmos”. Descend into the underworld in the region’s deepest Cenote of 80m diameter, a truly magical and powerful place to explore.
The symbolism of the jaguar in Ek Balam: for shamans the jaguar was a spirit companion or nagual, which would protect them from evil spirits while they moved between the earth and the spirit realm. In order for the shamans to combat evil forces, it was necessary for them to transform and cross over to the spirit realm. The jaguar is often a nagual because of its strength, which was necessary to dominate the spirits. The jaguar possessed the transient ability to move between worlds because of its ease in the trees and the water, and it’s ability to hunt in the nighttime and daytime. The Integration of the jaguar into the sacred and secular realms of the Mayan Temples is apparent all over Ek Balam. Mayan kings wore jaguar pelts, adopting the jaguar as part of their ruling name, as a symbol of their might and authority.