MYSTICAL CHICHEN ITZA

The Maya name “Chichen Itza” means “At the mouth of the well of the Itza.” This derives from chi’, meaning “mouth” and ch’en meaning “well.” Itzá is the name of an ethnic-lineage group that gained political and economic dominance. Chichen Itza is located in the eastern portion of Yucatán state in Mexico. The “Cenote Sagrado” known as the “Well of Sacrifice”, where objects and humans were sacrificed, as a form of worship to the Maya rain god Chaac. Four Chaacs are based in the cardinal directions and wear the directional colors. In Yucatán, Chaac of the east was called Chac Xib Chaac ‘Red Man Chaac’. The rain deities had their human counterparts the rain makers. Among the rituals for the rain deities, the Yucatec Cha-Chaac ceremony included four boys (one for each cardinal point) acting and chanting as frogs. Young men and women were lowered into the cenote and left to drown they were believed to enter the realm of the rain deities to be given oracles. Chaac is usually depicted with a human body showing reptilian or amphibian scales, with a non-human head evincing fangs and a long, pendulous nose, a shell serves as his ear ornament, he carries a shield and lightning-axe. The site exhibits a multitude of architectural styles, reminiscent of styles seen in central Mexico and of the Puuc and Chenes styles of the Northern Maya lowlands. Chichen Itza was one of the largest Maya cities and was one of the mythical Tollans. The name Tollan means “Among the reeds” in the Nahuatl language, a place where people are thick as reeds. The Late Classic city was centered upon the area of the Xtoloc cenote, with the main architecture represented by the substructures of Las Monjas and Observatorio. The buildings of Chichen Itza are grouped in a series of architectonic sets, separated from the other by a series of low walls. The three best known of these complexes are the Great North Platform, which includes the monuments of El Castillo, Temple of Warriors and the Great Ball Court; The Osario Group, which includes the pyramid of the same name as well as the Temple of Xtoloc; and the Central Group, which includes the Caracol, Las Monjas, and Akab Dzib. Temple of Kukulkan referred to as El Castillo, the Great Ball Court about 150 meters to the north-west of the Castillo is the most impressive. It is the largest and best preserved ball court in ancient Mesoamerica. The Temple of the Jaguar overlooks the ball court and has an entrance guarded by two, large columns carved in the familiar feathered serpent motif. Inside there is a large mural, which depicts a battle scene. At the end of the Great Ball Court is the North Temple, known as the Temple of the Bearded Man. The Platform of the Eagles and the Jaguars is immediately to the east of the Great Ball court. It is built in a combination Maya and Toltec styles, with a staircase ascending each of its four sides, they are decorated with panels depicting eagles and jaguars consuming human hearts. The Tzompantli, or Skull Platform is located near the Castillo. The Platform of Venus is dedicated to the planet Venus, located north of El Castillo and the Cenote Sagrado. The Temple of the Warriors complex consists of a large stepped pyramid fronted and flanked by rows of carved columns depicting warriors, on the pyramid’s summit is a Chac Mool. Throughout its nearly 1,000-year history, the fusion of Mayan construction techniques with new elements from central Mexico make Chichen-Itza one of the most important examples of the Mayan-Toltec civilization in Yucatán. Chichen Viejo consists of the Nunnery, the Church, Akab Dzib, Chichan Chob, the Temple of the Panels and the Temple of the Deer. They were constructed between the 6th and the 10th centuries in the characteristic Maya style then popular both in the northern and southern areas of the Puuc hills. The second settlement of Chichen-Itza, corresponded to the migration of Toltec warriors from the Mexican plateau towards the south during the 10th century.
“Chichen Itza is the most important archaeological vestige of the Maya-Toltec civilization in Yucatán (10th-15th centuries). Its monuments, particularly in the northern group which includes the Great Ball Court, Temple of Kukulkan and Temple of the Warriors, are among the undisputed masterpieces of Mesoamerican architecture because of the beauty of their proportions, the refinement of their construction and the splendour of their sculpted decorations. These monuments exerted an influence throughout the entire Yucatán cultural zone from the 10th to the 15th centuries”.