There’s something about Mayan architecture in particular and ancient Mesoamerican architecture in general that I find fascinating. But I’m hard-pressed to put it into words. But this ancient Mayan Temple definitely stands out among the examples I’ve seen. Compared to the massive pyramids, it’s hardly the largest or most impressive from that angle, but there’s something about the lines of the Temple of the Jaguars at Chichen Itza that speaks to me.
In part, maybe it’s simply that Mayan Temples are alien to what you find from the Classical World in Europe, Mind you, I’m charmed by ancient Greek and Roman temples, but we still mimic that style of architecture today in everything from banks to government buildings. Mayan Temples are comparatively exotic. Outside of a tourist resort in Mexico, you’re unlikely to find many imitations of these ancient buildings.
Even without the exotic angle, I think the Temple of The Jaguars, which backs up on the ancient ball court at Chichen Itza would appeal to me. I love the sleek and angular construction. There’s a hint of the modernist there don’t you think?
Of course, when we look at ancient Mayan Temples and equally ancient Greek ones, we are seeing ghosts of the past. In both cases, the finished appearance is lost to us. All evidence suggests that the ancient Mayan Temples were covered in painted plaster. It’s hard for us to imagine in an age where that sort of color has fallen out of vogue, but the ‘dignified’ current state of white stone statues and buildings of the Classical World are likely just as misleading.
All that said, I love the skeleton of this particular Mayan Temple. I may not be seeing it as the ancient architects intended, but I still appreciate their sense of proportions. The lines and shapes speak to me across the ages. Do you have that same feeling when looking at these ancient Mayan Temples? Do they talk to you from the past? Perhaps you’ve been to Chichen Itza as well and stood before these ruins? I hope you’ll take a moment to share your thoughts!