Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

POLITICAL STRUCTURE, MILITARY TRAINING, AND IDEOLOGY AT CHICHEN ITZA

  • Claude-François Baudez (a1) and Nicolas Latsanopoulos (a2)
Abstract

According to our reconstruction of the sociopolitics of tenth-century Chichen Itza, the polity was ruled by a paramount king who identified himself with the sun. A high priest, the second-ranking figure, stood by the king's side. A political and military elite, with an S-shaped serpent as its emblem, shared power with these top figures. Finally, the whole community of warriors was treated as a collective corps with important religious and political responsibilities. The iconography of the Temple of the Wall Panels depicts the initiation of jaguar knights by a warrior figure designated as Serpent Jaguar. The same individual, also represented and designated on the slab covering the cache buried in the upper temple, was assisted or controlled by personages who ranked above him. The panels illustrate the destiny of the jaguar-warriors after their glorious death, first as they accompany the rising sun and, later, as they transform themselves into birds. This interpretation appears very close to the destiny of the dead Aztec warriors as recounted by Sahagún and other chroniclers. The butterfly/bird theme, associated with warriors, indicates that similar beliefs were current at Teotihuacan. The Temple of the Wall Panels, too small to be a telpochcalli was probably a house used by warriors, as indicated by its images and its distinctive architecture, which are shared at the same site by the Temple of the Warriors.

Copyright
Corresponding author
E-mail correspondence to: claude.Baudez@orange.fr, nlatsa@hotmail.com
References
Hide All
Anders Ferdinand, Jansen Maarten, and Pérez Jiménez Gabina Aurora 1992 Códice Vindobonensis: Origen e historia de los reyes mixtecos. Facsimile with commentary and line drawing. Sociedad Estatal Quinto Centenario; Akademische Druck-u. Verlangsanstalt; Fondo de Cultura Económica. Madrid, Graz, and Mexico City.
Anderson Patricia K. 1994 Interpretations of Conflict at Chichen Itza. In Seventh Palenque Round Table, edited by Robertson Merle Greene and Fields Virginia M. pp. 3337. The Pre-Columbian Art Research Institute, San Francisco.
Baudez Claude-François 1988 Solar Cycle and Dynastic Succession in the Southeast Maya Zone. In The Southeast Classic Maya Zone, edited by Boone Elizabeth H. and Willey Gordon, pp. 125148. Dumbarton Oaks Trustees for Harvard University, Washington DC.
Baudez Claude-François 1994 Maya Sculpture of Copan: The Iconography. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.
Baudez Claude-François 2004 Una historia de la religión de los antiguos mayas. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, CEMCA (Centro Francés de Estudios Mexicanos y Centroamericanos, Centre Culturel et de Coopération pour l'Amérique Centrale), Mexico City.
Berdan Frances F., and Anawalt Patricia Rieff 1992 The Codex Mendoza, 4 vols. University of California Press, Berkeley.
Bey George J. III, and Ringle William M. 2007 From the Bottom Up: The Timing and Nature of the Tula-Chichen Itza Exchange. In Twin Tollans: Chichen Itza, Tula, and the Epiclassic to Early Postclassic Mesoamerican World, edited by Kowalski Jeff Karl and Kristan-Graham Cynthia, pp. 377427. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.
Bolles John S. 1977 Las Monjas: A Major Pre-Columbian Architectural Complex at Chichen Itza. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.
Cobos Rafael 2007 Multepal or Centralized Kingship? New Evidence on Governmental Organization at Chichen Itza. In Twin Tollans: Chichen Itza, Tula, and the Epiclassic to Early Postclassic Mesoamerican World, edited by Kowalski Jeff Karl and Kristan-Graham Cynthia, pp. 315343. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.
Coggins Clemency C., and Shane Orrin III 1984 Cenote of Sacrifice: Maya Treasures from the Sacred Well at Chichen Itza. University of Texas Press, Austin.
de la Fuente Beatriz (coordinator) 1995 La Pintura Mural Prehispánica en México. Teotihuacan, 2 vol. Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México.
Gann Thomas W.F. 1900 Mounds in Northern Honduras: United States Bureau of American Ethnology Annual Report 19:655692. Washington, DC.
Graña-Behrens Daniel, Prager Christian, and Wagner Elizabeth 1999 The Hieroglyphic Inscription of the “High Priest's Grave” at Chichen Itza, Yucatan, México. Mexicon 21:6166.
Grube Nikolai 1994 Hieroglyphic Sources for the History of Northwest Yucatan. In Hidden Among the Hills: Maya Archaeology of the Northwest Yucatan Peninsula, edited by Prem Hanns J., pp. 316358. Verlag von Flemming, Möcksmühl, Germany.
Grube Nikolai, and Krochock Ruth J. 2007 Reading Between the Lines: Hieroglyphic Texts from Chichen Itza and Its Neighbors. In Twin Tollans: Chichen Itza, Tula, and the Epiclassic to Early Postclassic Mesoamerican World, edited by Kowalski Jeff Karl and Kristan-Graham Cynthia, pp. 205249. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.
Headrick Annabeth 2003 Butterfly War at Teotihuacan. In Ancient Mesoamerican Warfare, edited by Brown M. Kathryn and Stanton Travis W.. Altamira Press, Walnut Creek, CA.
Kowalski Jeff Karl 2003 Collaboration and Conflict: An Interpretation of the Relationship between Uxmal and Chichen Itza during the Terminal Classic/Early Postclassic Periods. In Escondido en la selva, arqueología en el norte de Yucatan, segundo simposio Teobert Maler, Bonn 2000, edited by Prem Hanns J. pp. 235272. University of Bonn, Instituto de Antropología e Historia, Bonn and Mexico City.
Kowalski Jeff Karl 2007 What's “Toltec” at Uxmal and Chichen Itza? Merging Maya and Mesoamerican Worldviews and World Systems in Terminal Classic to Early Postclassic Yucatan. In Twin Tollans: Chichen Itza, Tula, and the Epiclassic to Early Postclassic Mesoamerican World, edited by Kowalski Jeff Karl and Kristan-Graham Cynthia, pp. 251313. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.
Kowalski Jeff Karl, and Kristan-Graham Cynthia 2007a Chichen Itza, Tula, and Tollan: Changing Perspectives on a Recurring Problem in Mesoamerican Archaeology and Art History. In Twin Tollans: Chichen Itza, Tula, and the Epiclassic to Early Postclassic Mesoamerican World, edited by Kowalski Jeff Karl and Kristan-Graham Cynthia, pp. 1383. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.
Kowalski Jeff Karl, and Kristan-Graham Cynthia (editors) 2007b Twin Tollans: Chichen Itza, Tula, and the Epiclassic to Early Postclassic Mesoamerican World. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.
Kristan-Graham Cynthia 1989 Art, Rulership and the Mesoamerican Body Politic at Tula and Chichen Itza. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Art History, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles.
Krochock Ruth, and Freidel David A. 1994 Ballcourts and the Evolution of Political Rhetoric at Chichen Itza. In Hidden Among the Hills: Maya Archaeology of the Northwest Yucatan Peninsula, edited by Prem Hanns J., pp. 359375. Verlag von Flemming, Möcksmühl, Germany.
Lincoln Charles 1990 Ethnicity and Social Organization at Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University, Cambridge.
Lincoln Charles 1994 Structural and Philological Evidence for Divine Kingship at Chichen Itza, Yucatan. In Hidden Among the Hills: Maya Archaeology of the Northwest Yucatan Peninsula, edited by Prem Hanns J., pp. 164195. Verlag von Flemming, Möcksmühl, Germany.
Lothrop Samuel K. 1952 Metals from the Cenote of Sacrifice, Chichen Itza, Yucatan. Memoirs of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology vol. 10, no. 2, Harvard University, Cambridge.
Marquina Ignacio 1964 Arquitectura prehispánica. Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, México.
Maudslay Alfred Percival 1889–1901 Archaeology. In Biologia Centrali-Americana, 4 vols. Dulau & Co. London.
Milbrath Susan 1999 Gods of the Maya: Astronomy in Art, Folklore, and Calendars. University of Texas Press, Austin.
Milbrath Susan 2008 Almanaque de Venus en Yucatan. In Memorias del Segundo Congreso Internacional de la Cultura Maya, Mérida, Yucatán, edited by Rubio Alfredo Barrera y Gubler Ruth, Universidad Autónoma de Yucatan, Mérida.
Miller Arthur J. 1977 “Captains of the Itza”: Unpublished Mural Evidence from Chichen Itza. In Social Process in Maya Prehistory, edited by Hammond Norman, pp. 197225. Academic Press, New York.
Miller Arthur J. 1982 On the Edge of the Sea. Mural Painting at Tancah-Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.
Morris Earl H., Charlot Jean, and Morris Ann A. 1931 The Temple of the Warriors at Chichén Itza, Yucatán. 2 vols. Carnegie Institution of Washington Publication, Washington, DC.
Ringle William 2004 The Political Organization of Chichen Itza. Ancient Mesoamerica 15:167218.
Ringle William 2009 The Art of War: Imagery of the Upper Temple of the Jaguars, Chichen Itza. Ancient Mesoamerica 20:1544.
Robertson Merle Greene 1985 The Sculpture of Palenque, vol. III. The Late Buildings of the Palace. Princeton University Press, Princeton.
Robertson Merle Greene 1991 The Ballgame at Chichen Itza: An Integrating Device of the Polity in the Post-Classic. In The Mesoamerican Ballgame, edited by van Bussel Gerard W., van Dongen Paul L.F., and Leyenaar Ted J.J., pp. 91109. Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde, Leiden.
Robertson Merle Greene 1994 The Iconography of “Isolated Art Styles” that are “Group Supported” and “Individual Supported” Occuring at Chichen Itza and Uxmal. In Hidden among the Hills: Maya Archaeology of the Northwest Yucatan Peninsula, edited by Prem Hanns J., pp. 197211. Verlag von Flemming, Möcksmühl, Germany.
Roys Ralph 1967 The Book of Chilam Balam de Chumayel. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.
Ruppert Karl 1931 Temple of the Wall Panels, Chichen Itza. Publication 403, Contribution 3. Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, DC.
Ruppert Karl 1943 The Mercado, Chichen Itza, Yucatan. Contributions to American Anthropology and History. Publication 546. Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, DC.
Ruppert Karl 1952 Chichen Itza: Architectural Notes and Plans. Publication 595. Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, DC.
Sahagún Bernardino de 1956 Historia General de las Cosas de Nueva España, 4 Tomos, edited por Garibay Angel María, VI: 162. Editorial Porrúa, Mexico City.
Sahagún Bernardino de 1959–1982 Florentine Codex: General History of the Things of New Spain, 13 vols. Translated and edited by Dibble Charles E. and Anderson Arthur J.O., VI: 162. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.
Schele Linda, and Freidel David 1990 A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya. William Morrow, New York.
Schele Linda, and Mathews Peter 1998 The Code of Kings: The Language of Seven Sacred Maya Temples and Tombs. Scribner, New York.
Schmidt Peter J. 2005 Nuevos hallazgos en Chichén Itzá. Arqueología Mexicana 76:4855.
Schmidt Peter J. 2007 Birds, Ceramics, and Cacao: New Excavations at Chichen Itza, Yucatan. In Twin Tollans: Chichen Itza, Tula, and the Epiclassic to Early Postclassic Mesoamerican World, edited by Kowalski Jeff Karl and Kristan-Graham Cynthia, pp. 151203. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.
Seler Eduard 1990–1998 Collected Works in Mesoamerican Linguistics and Archaeology, 6 vols. English translations of German papers under the supervision of Charles P. Bowditch. Labyrinthos, Lancaster, CA.
Taube Karl A. 1994 The Iconography of Toltec Period Chichen Itza. In Hidden Among the Hills: Maya Archaeology of the Northwest Yucatan Peninsula, edited by Prem Hanns J., pp. 212246. Verlag von Flemming, Möcksmühl, Germany.
Tozzer Alfred 1957 Chichen Itza and its Cenote of Sacrifice: A Comparative Study of Contemporaneous Maya and Toltec. Memoirs of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. Harvard University, Cambridge.
von Winning Hasso 1987 La iconografía de Teotihuacán. Los dioses y los signos. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City.
Willats John 1997 Art and Representation: New Principles in the Analysis of Pictures. Princeton University Press, Princeton.
Wren Linnea 1994 Ceremonialism in the Reliefs of the North Temple, Chichen Itza. In Seventh Palenque Round Table, edited by Robertson Merle Greene and Fields Virginia M.. The Pre-Columbian Art Research Institute, San Francisco.
Wren Linnea 2003 Commemoration, Celebration and Replication: Function and Persuasion in the Art of Chichen Itza. In Escondido en la selva, arqueología en el norte de Yucatan, segundo simposio Teobert Maler, Bonn 2000, edited por Prem Hanns J., pp. 6578. University of Bonn, Instituto de Antropología e Historia, Bonn and Mexico City.
Wren Linnea, and Schmidt Peter J. 1991 Elite Interaction during the Terminal Classic Period: New Evidence from Chichen Itza. In Classic Maya Political History: Hieroglyphic and Archaeological Evidence, edited by Culbert T. Patrick, pp. 199225. School of American Research and Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Wren Linnea, Spencer Kaylee, and Hochstetler Krysta 2001 Political Rhetoric and the Unification of Natural Geography, Cosmic Space and Gender Spheres. In Landscape and Power in Ancient Mesoamerica, edited by Koontz Rex, Reese-Taylor Kathryn, and Headrick Annabeth, pp. 257277. Westview Press, Boulder.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Ancient Mesoamerica
  • ISSN: 0956-5361
  • EISSN: 1469-1787
  • URL: /core/journals/ancient-mesoamerica
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 22
Total number of PDF views: 94 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 281 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 23rd October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.