Ancient Astronaut, Pakal, Maya, sarcophagus lid,

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4 × 6 (inches)

$9.00
TOM HILL - Designer

Joined August 2010

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Artist's Description

The large carved stone sarcophagus lid in the Temple of Inscriptions is a unique piece of Classic Maya art. Iconographically, however, it is closely related to the large wall panels of the temples of the Cross and the Foliated Cross centred on world trees. Around the edges of the lid is a band with cosmological signs, including those for sun, moon, and star, as well as the heads of six named noblemen of varying rank.

The central image is that of a cruciform world tree. Beneath Pakal is one of the heads of a celestial two-headed serpent viewed frontally. Both the king and the serpent head on which he seems to rest are framed by the open jaws of a funerary serpent, a common iconographic device for signalling entrance into, or residence in, the realm(s) of the dead. The king himself wears the attributes of the Tonsured maize god – in particular a turtle ornament on the breast – and is shown in a peculiar posture that may denote rebirth.

Interpretation of the lid has raised controversy. Linda Schele saw Pakal falling down the Milky Way into the southern horizon.

Pseudoarchaeology
Pakal’s tomb has the subject of ancient astronaut hypotheses since its appearance in Erich von Däniken’s 1968 best seller, Chariots of the Gods?. Von Däniken reproduced a drawing of the sarcophagus lid, incorrectly labeling it as being from “Copán” and comparing Pacal’s pose to that of Project Mercury astronauts in the 1960s. Von Däniken interprets drawings underneath him as rockets, and offers it as possible evidence of an extraterrestrial influence on the ancient Maya.

In the centre of that frame is a man sitting, bending forward. He has a mask on his nose, he uses his two hands to manipulate some controls, and the heel of his left foot is on a kind of pedal with different adjustments. The rear portion is separated from him; he is sitting on a complicated chair, and outside of this whole frame, you see a little flame like an exhaust.

Another example of this carving’s manifestation in pseudoarchaeology is the identification by José Argüelles of “Pacal Votan” as an incarnation named “Valum Votan,” who would act as a “closer of the cycle” in 2012 (an event that is also significant on Argüelles’ “13 Moon” calendar). Daniel Pinchbeck, in his book 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl (2006), also uses the name “Votan” in reference to Pakal.

Artwork Comments

desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

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