Mythology behind tomb lid of Pakal Votan


The  accepted interpretation by archeologists is that the original scene depicted on the sarcophagus' lapidary stone represents the instant of Pakal's death and his fall to the Underworld.
    drawing of Sarcophagus Lid of Pakal Votan
  1. The large carved stone sarcophagus lid in the Temple of Inscriptions is a unique piece of Classic Maya art. Around the edges of the lid is a band with cosmological signs, including those for sun, moon, and star, as well as the heads of six ancestors. The central image is that of a world tree. Beneath Pakal is one of the heads of a celestial two-headed serpent viewed frontally. Both the king and the serpent head on which he seems to rest are framed by the open jaws of a funerary serpent, a common iconographic device for signalling entrance into, or residence in, the realm(s) of the dead. The king himself wears the attributes of the Tonsured maize god and is shown in a peculiar posture that may denote rebirth. (source: wikipedia)
  2. Ronald Story:The Palenque astronaut, carved on a sarcophagus lid from the temple of Inscriptions, Palenque, Mexico. Although, Von Däniken  sees a man piloting a rocket in this illustration the personage is actually a deceased ruler, Pacal, in a state of suspension between two worlds, the world of living and that of the dead. He is shown here in the composite design of a cross, a two-headed serpent and corn plant , rich in Mayan (Space Gods revealed)
  3. Edgar Foley: One of the most significant archaeological finds of the 20th century was the tomb of K'inich Janaab' Pakal, ruler of the Mayan city of Palenque from 615 to 683 AD. After having assumed the throne at age twelve, he ruled Palenque for an astonishing 68 years. During his reign, Palenque became a Mayan Florence, a medium-sized city crammed with unsurpassed architecture and art.
    Pakal's tomb was found in the so-called Pyramid of Inscriptions. Until this find, it was not known that the Mayan's buried their rulers in a very similar fashion to the ancient Egyptians.
    The concept and execution of Pakal's tomb are really remarkably similar to the Egyptian pyramids, which served as a sort of launching platform for deceased pharaohs, including worldly goods the Pharaoh would need and elaborate inscriptions as to how the Pharaohs' soul was to navigate through the underworld and reach the afterlife. Pakal's tomb was not only filled with relics and treasures, it also contained six servants.
    The lid on the tomb describes how Pakal's soul is to manoeuvre through the underworld. It shows the ruler seated upon the Monster of the Sun, in its state of transition between life and death: a skeleton from the mouth down, yet with the eyes of a living being. The sun enters into this state of transition at dawn and at dusk. Here, the emblem of the Monster of the Sun contains the ‘cimi’, the sign of death, representing the ‘death of the sun’ or sunset, with the sun located on the horizon, sinking into Xibalba – the underworld.
    The movement of the sun from east to west represents Pakal's journey from life into death. Inside the underworld at the centre of the universe, stands the sacred World Tree with a Celestial Bird—symbol of the kingdom of heaven.
    Each night, the Mayans saw the Milky Way rise after the sun had set. For them, this starry river was the Underworld, and the dark space at its centre was the ‘Dragon's Mouth’ - its entrance. The ‘World Tree’ was basically the cross formed by the Milky Way rising perpendicular to the horizon. (source:rijksmuseumamsterdam.blogspot.co.uk/)
  4. Zecharia Sitchin:Inscriptions on the wall of the funerary edifice and in adjoining structures convince them that the person buried here is the ruler Pacal ("Shield") who reigned in Palenque in A.D. 615-683. Some see a depiction of the deceased Pacal being taken by the Dragon of the Underworld to the realm of the dead; they consider the fact that at the winter solstice the Sun sets exactly behind the temple of inscriptions with added symbolism of the King's departure the setting Sung God. Others prompted to revise interpretations by the fact that the depiction restrained by a Sky Band,  a chain of glyphs that represent celestial bodies and the zodiac constellations regard the scene as showing the king being carried by the Celestial serpent to the celestial realm of the gods. The cross like object that the deceased is facing is now recognized at the stylised tree of life suggesting that the king is being transported to an eternal afterlife (The Lost Realms, by Zechariah Sitchin, p71-72)

ii). In The Background
  1. "A strip of heaven (skyband) frames the entire scene with kin (day or the sun) in the upper right or northeast corner and akbaal (night or darkness) on the far left or northwest corner. The movement of the sun from east to west represents Pakal's journey from life into death. Symbols fill the background of this scene (shells, jade beads, signs of plenty, and others) carried on spirals of blood.   (Taken from :http://www.delange.org/PalenqueTomb/PalenqueTomb.htm) 
iii) The World Tree
      We find the cross shape structure above Pacal in the relief is based on  the form of the Palenque cross, complete with a bird known as the cosmic bird also known as Itxam-Yeh, the seven Macaw associated with the Big Dipper star constellation, perched on the very top.



      image of the cross from the Sanctuary tablet from 
      Temple of the Cross. Palenque
      (source: A Forest of Kings:
      The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya)

      1.  The World Tree is the central axis of the world. Called the Wacah-Chan ('six sky" or "raised up sky") in the glyphs, it appears in the form of a cross marked with God C to denote it is a divine or holy thing. The bejeweked, square-snouted serpents which usually terminate its branches represent  flows of liquid offering - human blood and its analogs, rubber, copal, and the red sap of the ceiba tree. Draped in the banches of the tree is the Celestial Bird Deity, who is the bird of the center in the direction model of the world. The World Tree often emerges from behind the read of the Cosmic Monster. The front head of the same creature can be depicted as its roots. The Tree is the path of communication between the natural and supernatural words as it is defined at the center of the cosmo. The Cosmic Monster is the same path of communication configured for the periphery of the cosmos. The king personifies this World Tree in his flesh. (source: A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya)
      2. The Tree of the World is specially marked as a sacred object: the symbols for te or "tree" 
        confirm it is a cottonwood. The symbols for nen or "mirror" indicate that the tree is a shining and powerful being. The enormous figure of God C (symbol of blood and that which is holy) is inserted in the base of the trunk and is linked with Pakal's body. The tips of the tree's branches are shaped like the bowls used to catch sacrificial blood. Jade beads and tubes surround the square-nostriled dragons that are born from these vessels, indicating that they are especially sacred. These jewel-covered monsters are depicted in deliberate contrast to the skeletal dragons below them. Te first represent the heavens, the most sacred of the three levels of the Maya cosmos; the second illustrate the world of death into which Pakal falls. (Source: http://www.delange.org/PalenqueTomb/PalenqueTomb.htm)

        The Olmec "Tree of Life" (Mesoamerican Cosmology).
        The lineage founder, 2 Grass, is being born from a 

         twisting World Tree. Detail from Selden Codex page 2. 
        Source: FAMSI


      iv) The Celestial Bird

      (source: A Forest of Kings:
      The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya)

      Possibly a celestial bird,  from photo K8342,
      1. The Celestial Bird, also known as the Serpent Bird and the Principal Bird Deity, has a long tail, personified wings, and the head of a zoomorphic monster. Often it appears with a round object and a woven ribbon held in its mouth, with a trefoil pectoral around its neck, and a cut-shell ornament attached to a jade headband. In its most common representation it sits atop the World Tree or astride the body of the Cosmic Monster. In its earlier manifestations, it appeared prominently in  the Late Preclassic art of the southern highlands. There it represented the idea of nature out of control but brought into order by the Hero Twins and their avata on earth, the king. This concept of the king as the guardian of ordered nature first came into the iconography of lowland Maya wit the image of this bird, especially in the context of the world tree. (source: A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya)

      v) The Serpent Bar

      (source: A Forest of Kings:
      The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya)
      1. The Serpent Bar, also known as the Bicephalic Bar, the Double-headed Serpent Bar, and the Ceremonial Bar, is a sceptre carried in the arms of the rulers, usually held against their chests. To hold the Bar, Maya rulers put their hands in a formal gesture with their wrists back to back and their thumbs turned outward.(source: A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya)
      2. A two-headed serpent bar (the Maya symbol of royalty) is wrapped around branches of the Tree of the World. The body is made of jade segments, again conferring special value on the serpent. The heads on each end of the bar correspond, piece by piece, to the skeletal dragons at the opening to the Underworld. Whereas the Underworld is like a skeleton, Earth, represented by the serpent, has flesh.(Source www.delange.org/PalenqueTomb/PalenqueTomb.htm)
      vi) King Pakal falling backwards

      There is the King Pakal is falling backwards into the mouth of Xebalba. More humans depicted like the one in the Pakal Votan tomb lid can be found in other artwork not depicting anything like a spacecraft, the figure from Kerr photo number 3422 seen reclining on a platform in a similar strange position. Then in Kerr photo number K7146, a dwarf reclining on a water lily pads spread out across the head of the water lily monster, which certainly isn't an engine for a space craft.
      1. Pakal appears to be tumbling at an angle on the head of the Monster of the Sun, also a symbol of his transition from life into death. His loincloth and his heavy jade collar (both the front and back are depicted on the stone) seem to be floating away from his body. His knees are flexed, his hands relaxed. His face is calm because he expects to defeat death. A bone piercing Pakal's nose symbolizes that even death carries in it the seed of rebirth. In the Maya dialects, "bone" and "large seed" are synonymous. Thus, the bone is the seed of Pakal's resurrection. In the end, Pakal falls as a deity with the smoking knife of God K embedded in his forehead. He was a god in life, and a god when falling into death."(Taken from :http://www.delange.org/PalenqueTomb/PalenqueTomb.htm)



      Detail from vase from photo : Kerr number 3422
      Detail from photo Kerr Number Kerr Number: 1184.  Resurrection of infant in the otherworld. 
      The calendar round could denote the years AD756 or AD808  (source research.mayavase.com/)
      (Actually the person lying back appears to be undergoing a transformation into an animal.)

      Detail from photo Kerr Number 7146, a dwarf blowing conch shell while lying on bed of water lily
      pads which is sitting on head of water lily monster (Long nosed skeletal with lily pads emanating 
       from top of head) (source: http://research.mayavase.com/)



       vii) The Maw of Xibalba

      As King Pacal is swallowed up by the maw of Xebalba, it is this way that he enters the underworld.


      1. The Maw of Xibalba is depicted as the great gaping head of a skeletal zoomorph. It is always represented with skeletal features and split-representation of two profiles merged at the lowed jaw. The Maw symbolizes death or the point of transition between the natural world and the Otherworld of Xibalba. (source: A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya)
      2. The open mouth of the Xibalba, the Underworld, is carved on the bottom of the stone. Two dragon skeletons, united at the lower jaw, make up a U-shaped container that represents the entrance. The dragons' lips are curved inward, as though closing over Pakal's falling body. There, inside the Underworld at the center of the Universe, stands the Tree of the World with a Celestial Bird (symbol of the kingdom of heaven) poised on its highest branch. (Source www.delange.org/PalenqueTomb/PalenqueTomb.htm)
      The shapes of the pincer like jaws of the serpent about to swallow Pacal are a familiar sight for those who wish to examine the various Mayan artifacts.
      1. For some reason, this representation of a human emerging from the open jaws of a serpent has come to be known as "La Reina de Uxmal" (the "Queen of Uxmal"). In actuality, it probably has something to do with contacting deified ancestors through vision rites, in which the so-called Vision Serpent was conceived of as a conduit to the Otherworld, where the ancestors resided.  (source: http://www.mesoweb.com)


      A human figure emerges from the open jaws
      of a snake (Uxmal between 800 AD -950 AD)
      Architectural finial, Maya, Terminal Classic (900-1000 A.D.)
      Uxmal, State of Yucatán, Sandstone, 80 x 99 cm.
      National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico.
       
      Photo © Jorge Pérez de Lara 





      viii) The head of the Sun Monster/God, Kinich Ahau



      1. "The Quadripartite Monster appears in the three major versions: as the rear of the Cosmic Monster, as an independant image at the base of the World Tree, and as a scepter of headdress. It never has a body and its head is usually fleshed above the muzzle and skeletal beneath it. A flat bloodletting bowl marked with the sign for the sun, kin, forms its forehead and a stingray spine, a shell, and crossbands rest in the bowl. The Stingray represents the blood of the Middleworld, the shell symbolizes the water of the Underworld; and the crossbands are the path of the sun crossing the Milky Way, a sign of the heavens which can be represented by a bird's wing in Early Classic examples. GI of the Palenque Triad often wears this image as its headdress. The Quadripartite Monster represents the sun as it travels on its journey through the cosmos. (A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya)
      2. During his fall from the Tree of the World, Pakal is seated upon the Monster of the Sun. The monster is aptly represented in its state of transition between life and death: a skeleton from the mouth down, with eyes that have the dilated pupils of living beings. The sun enters into this state of transition at dawn and at dusk. Here, however, the emblem of the Monster of the Sun contains the cimi or sign of death, emphasizing imagery representing the "death of the sun" or sunset, with the sun located on the horizon, ready to sink into the Underworld . . . and take the dead king with it. (Taken from :http://www.delange.org/PalenqueTomb/PalenqueTomb.htm)
      (source: A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya)
      "quadripartite badge from the Temple of the Cross"

      Another depiction,
      Kinich Ahau - the Maya Sun God Jade Head
      (source: www.belize.com)

      Mayan mask showing a depiction of the same monster, but considered here a God
       . "An idealized portrait of God GIII of the Planeque Triad from
       the Mayan lowlands, this mosaic mask is made of eighty-two individually cut
       deep green mottled jade, spondylus and conch shell plaques. The mask’s large 
      squared eyes have distinctive spirally incised conch shell pupils, each carefully 
      highlighted by red pigment. The lower eyelids curl over the nose to form the 
      characteristic cruller loop between the eyes. The robust nose with slightly flared 
      nostrils is carved from a single piece of jade. Distinguished by fish fin shaped 
      ornaments at the corners, the wide mouth reveals a filed front tooth and flint-like 
      tongue. The figure wears the headdress of the Quadripartite Monster, symbolized 
      by the stepped plaque with a central flint. The overall effect is an imposing 
      representation of the Mayan deity. (source:http://collectrium.com/)




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