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Ancient Mayan Serpent – Chichen Itza

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If you’ve explored many of the ancient ruins in the Yucatan region, you’ve likely encountered a variety of Mayan serpents. This motif is carried beyond just the temples to Kukulkan. This particular Mayan Serpent, for example, is from the edge of the ancient ball court at Chichen Itza. Although it does represent the ancient Mayan god, it’s a depiction that isn’t confined to temples. I suspect that suggests how important this god was to the Maya of the region.

Kukulkan, the Mayan Serpent, is a god that transcended various Mesoamerican cultures. His origins are intertwined, for example, with Quetzalcoatl of the Aztecs. That mingling of cultures is part of the reason the beginnings of his cult are indistinct and lost in the distant past. Coupled with the fact there was an actual person in Mayan history with the same name, the trail becomes ever more muddy.

Whatever the story, the fact that the Mayan serpent is a design that comes up again and again in Mayan art and architecture illustrates this was an important figure in Mayan life. Beyond the story of Kukulkan, what caught my attention with this particular Mayan serpent was the detail in the sculpture. Even after centuries of weathering, the efforts of the original artist to breathe life into the figure are still apparent. Even the scales of the skin still stand out. Imagine how little of our material world would still be here centuries after being allowed to fall into ruin?

This Mayan serpent is but a ghost of the Mayan world, but what an intriguing apparition! Have you chanced upon this same sculpture at Chichen Itza? Or do you just love Mayan art and architecture? I hope you will take a moment to share your thoughts!


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