Chichen Itza

El Castillo

El Castillo from atop Temple of Warriors

Image description

El Castillo as seen from behind the chac mool on top of the Temple of Warriors.

In the foreground left is a large, carved snake head, the image of Kukulkan as the serpent with his mouth open. There is an identical carving on the right just out of view. These stone images of the serpent god are a result of the Toltec influence on the Maya, and were commonly used as a decorative means to support lintels and roof structures. The carved pillar directly behind the serpent head is actually meant to represent the body of the snake god, aiming up towards the heavens. This design is called kuxan sum or "the living cord" and was the umbilicus or link through which man communicated with the gods.

Other examples of this style within Chichen Itza can be found at the portico to the upper temple of El Castillo and to the temple facing the ball court atop the Temple of the Jaguar.

-- Chris Reeves