In Maya "The Hand That Chisels”
or “The Hand of Kabal." Here we can observe many structures
of the Puuc Mayan splendor. Kabáh is on the lower part of a
valley surrounded by medium sized hills, most of which have
small temples at the top of them specifically positioned to
observe the Noh Pat and
the two main buildings of the city.
The best known site south of
its' popularity with tourists is largely due to the
existence of the Codz Poop or Wall of Masks, is a wall made
up over 260 Chaac masks, stacked on top of one another in an
almost fanatic configuration. Kabáh has been a site that has
experienced a recent surge of re-construction and
restoration. Also here is the much photographed arch that is
thought to be the center of the city and the entrance to the
sacbé (white road or Mayan highway) that went to
In a similar Puuc style that can be found in
Kabáh is another example of this construction style that
flourished in the eighth and ninth centuries throughout the
Yucatán Peninsula. Recent excavations have uncovered
life-sized statues of a Mayan King, restored to its position
on the upper frieze of the rear of the Codz Poop.
The Mayan ruins at Kabáh are located along what is called "The
Puuc Route," named
after the many sites around
where the Maya Puuc style of building can be found. It is
here in the inland hill country of
that the best of Puuc architecture can be found. Although
only a small part of this site has been excavated, it is
home to some very interesting and unusual buildings and
CODZ POOP (WALL OF MASKS):
Though there are numerous
representations of the rain god Chaac throughout
nowhere are they as apparently obsessive as they are in the
Codz Poop at Kabáh.
One of the most prominent buildings at Kabáh is the Palace
of the Masks. This large building’s Chenes-style facade is
completely covered with 260 masks of the rain god Chaac, who
is sometimes called “The Big Nosed God.”. It is one of the
most impressive in Maya architecture. Similar to other sites
in the Puuc region, the people of Kabáh were dependent on
rain to water their precious crops of corn. Thus the
devotion to Chaac.
Measuring 45 meters long with 260 Chaac masks, it has been
theorized that there was one mask built for every day in the
Mayan calendar. The only structure that comes close to this
repetitious use of the Chaac image is on the Palace of the
Though that structure shows 230 masks, they are not as
closely stacked or as "overwhelming" as The Codz Poop which
means “Rolled Mat.”
This structure is a true feat of engineering. Imagine for a
moment if you will, that this building is almost 45 meters
long. In the total area that makes up each Chaac mask, there
are 19 different "blocks" including the nose. The total
blocks needed for just the Chaac masks were therefore 4.940.
Add to this the smaller blocks that made up the door jambs
and other ornaments on the wall, and we can estimate that in
all the building would require over 6.000 blocks.
There would be different "teams"
of carvers, each working on a different section of the wall,
all needing to be coordinated to fit together at the same
time. All blocks carved from stone by hand, and all having
to be within a certain tolerance. If each block was out even
a centimeter, then by the time builders reached the far end
of the wall, that error would have been so magnified that
the patterns would not match at all.
What this tells us about the
Maya, is that in a world just emerging from the Neolithic
period of history; the Maya had a mass production system in
place for the building of such structures. Likely different
groups would be required to perform different functions.
Some would cut the course stone in a quarry, others would
transport the stone to those who roughed them into shape,
and finally, the most skilled craftsman would perform the
final carving to the exact dimensions needed to fit with the
other teams to give the final product. All in an age with no
calculators, no sophisticated measuring devices, and no
EASTERN STRUCTURES OF KABÁH:
Archeologists have not
come across any definitive names for these inner structures
at Kabáh, but they have included them in their reports as
some of the aspects of these buildings are known to have
significance in the Mayan culture.
On the same side of the road are the Great Temple and Temple
of the Columns, palace-like structures with plainer façades,
where restoration work is ongoing.
Kabáh also has a large arch with a sacbé (ancient road)
connecting it with the nearby Mayan site of
At the height of the Classic Period, from 600 - 900 AD,
was the governmental center for the surrounding areas. Kabáh
was one of its satellite cities, and although the
archeological zone open to the public is somewhat small in
size, there is little doubt that Kabáh was once a large and
thriving city, as there are numerous ruins there still not
Workers are diligently working on the buildings at Kabáh,
piecing together some of the details found at this site.
Even by today’s standards, the Puuc Maya were without a
doubt some of the most ingenious builders and artists when
it comes to stone and plaster. Two impressive sculptures
grace the facade of one of the temples, amazingly
well-preserved considering their fragility and exposed
location. A large pyramid at Kabáh is still waiting to be
uncovered in the future. No one knows what artistic
treasures may be found under the overgrown jungle trees and
vines that cover its surface.
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