More Maya ruins

Tags: Kabah, Labna, Maya ruins, Mexico

Date: September 16, 2018

After visiting Uxmal, we continued to two of the other Maya sites on the Puuc route, both of which were re-"discovered" and documented by Lloyd Stephens and Catherwood in 1843. We stopped first at Kabah, about 18 km South of Uxmal and originally connected to Uxmal by a raised, 5 m wide ceremonial road, a so-called Sacbe with an arch at each end. Kabah is a much more humble archaeological site than Uxmal, without souvenir shops, restaurants or guides and just a lady sitting in a small shack selling tickets. The most famous ruin in Kabah is the "Palace of the Masks", the facade of which is covered by a repetitive pattern of masks of the rain god, Chaac. It has been suggested that the popularity of the rain god - also known as the "Protector of the Harvest" here, at Uxmal and at other Puuc sites stemmed from the scarcity of water in the Puuc region. Because the Puuc area is quite hilly and lacks the many cenotes (or sink holes) present in much of Yucatan, the ground water is generally inaccessible from the surface and thus the Maya were dependent on the collection of rain water in large cisterns.

Here the repetitive pattern of Chaac masks can be seen on the facade of the "Palace of the Masks":

Here is a close up of one of the masks. Two round eyes with the broken off trunk-like nose in the middle:

Another close up of a mask with a rare intact nose:

Finally a door opening into the interior chambers of the building. Note the step of the door again showing a representation of Chaac:

A human figure on one of the other buildings at Kabah:

The arch of Kabah, looking towards Uxmal. This is the arch marking the beginning of the Sacbe road between Kabah and Uxmal:

Félicie in front of the arch, the camera pointing towards Kabah:

Kabah is quite a large site and as the buildings are very spread out and many of them still overgrown with jungle we saw only a few of the structures before driving on to the much smaller site Labná, famous for its palace ("El Palacio") and its arched gateway connected by yet another Sacbe. The "Palacio" is a two-storey building and with its 120 m one of the longest continuous structures in the Puuc region:

Corner detail showing a human head in the jaws of a snake. This is believed to symbolize rebirth:

Part of building partly overgrown by trees:

The arch of Labná:

Detail on the other side of the arch, with a stylized representation of a Maya hut, showing the walls and the door opening with a thatched roof above. In the niche representing the door of the hut is a faint relief of a face with rays coming out of it, possibly symbolizing the sun. The relief used to be in colors and a little blue and redish color is still visible: