Chac Mol Essay

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This week, I visited the Jardin Caracol at Tijuana to see the permanent exhibition of works from the pre-Hispanic Mexico. The exhibition displayed Mesoamerican works from the pre-classic, classic and post-classic periods , from cultures such as the Maya, Toltecs, Olmecs and Mixtecs. Among the most famous and outstanding works I saw were an Olmec head, as well as an Atlantid and a Chac Mool both pertaining to the Maya culture. This last one, the Chac Mool, is a limestone sculpture of representative character, from the Maya post-classic period dating from around 1100 to 1200 A.D. Originally, the Chac Mool were a Toltec creation commonly found in and around their temples. This type of statuary influenced many Mesoamerican cultures such as the Maya in this case. This particular artwork was found at Chichen Itza, which a that time was a heavily Toltec influenced site. Nonetheless, many others have been found at other places faraway from where the Toltec civilization developed, such as in Quirigua Guatemala, further exemplifying Toltecs’ great heritage. In the Chac Mool of Chicen Itza we can observe all the general characteristics commonly shared by the sculptures under this classification. This is a representation of a man leaning on the ground with both leg and arms folded. His head is turned almost at a ninety degree angle with staring eyes appearing to look surprisingly at the spectator as if he was caught in the moment forever. The folding of the legs and arms form a zigzag pattern interrupted by the holding of a bowl placed over his stomach emphasizing that area. The significance of the it however, is a mystery, as for my point of view it could symbolize the practice of some type of ritual by both the Toltecs and the Maya. Perhaps, a bloodletting one, which were very common in most Mesoamerican civilizations of the time. However, there are other interesting

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