Pakal Votan Tomb Lid : Basic view

leading from 


     
    Sarcophagus Lid of Pakal Votan
a) The accepted interpretation by archeologists is that the original scene depicted on the sarcophagus' lapidary stone represents the instant of Pakal Votan's death and his fall to the Underworld.

b) However the interpretation of what actually is going on in the relief can go in slightly different directions since the way of thinking of the Mayans who created it differs from our modern society and the conquistadors decided to burn most of their codexes back in the 16th century. However work has been done to establish enough of their mythology and culture over time to pick this apart.

c) In Western Society, the tomb lid had been made famous by Erich Von Daniken who asked if this was a man piloting a space rocket. However a more traditional archeological point of view might state that it showed Pakal Votan's soul would manoeuvre through the underworld. It showed the ruler seated upon the Monster of the Sun, in its state of transition between life and death: a skeleton from the mouth down, yest 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 - a 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


d) Another question might be whether he is going down into the Underworld or whether he is going up into the heavens where he is being transported to experience eternal life


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 Sun 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)
  5. "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)

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