"Pakal Votan" Tomb Lid: The Maw of Xibalba

a) 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)
b) 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)

Queen du'Uxmal, Late Classic (600-900 AD. AD). Limestone © Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico

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 

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