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Chac Masks on the Pyramid of the Magician at Uxmal


The Pyramid of the Magician at Uxmal (also called the Adivino) is a tall, rounded structure 31.5 meters high with remains of five sequential temples on top, dating from about AD 550-1000 in the Late Classic period.

Mosaic veneer work decorates the outer walls of Temple IV, one of the latest of the constructions, dating from about AD 850-900. The mosaic, seen from a staircase leading up to the later Temple V, is made up of small, precarved limestone elements. These typify the exterior decoration of the Puuc architectural style, which prevailed during the Late Classic at Uxmal and other sites including Sayil, Kabah, Labna, and Chichén Itzá. The elaborate facade of Temple IV on Uxmal's Adivino also includes elements of the Chenes style, another Late Classic architectural mode closely related to the Puuc style.

Among the most common elements of the Puuc style in Yucatán are Chac masks, which represent the Maya rain god who is still worshipped in rainmaking ceremonies. Two superimposed masks in the center of the image show ears, eyes, and projecting noses each made up of simple mosaic elements. Other Puuc style traits include the X-form lattice below, and sideways "T-form elements," visible in the vertical rows just left and right of the masks. Other Chac masks decorate the temple's corners.

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[Fig.1: Chac masks on the Pyramid of the Magician at Uxmal, Yucatán (photo: Athena Review).]

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