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Drawing From the Past
Maya Antiquity Through the Eyes of Frederick Catherwood

Plate 10, Archway, Casa del Gobernador, Uxmal

Plate 10, Archway, Casa del Gobernador, Uxmal

Plate 10, Archway, Casa del Gobernador, Uxmal
(on stone, by A. Picken)

This is the north façade of the House of the Governor, located in the southern part of Uxmal. This construction displays Puuc-style architecture, carefully crafted without the use of metal tools. Catherwood shows only a small part of the enormous building, bringing to our attention what he found important. The upper façade was crafted as a mosaic and contains thousands of handmade pieces. One also sees a great number of Chac masks (a rain and storm god important to the Maya) and many serpent adornments. Judging from its location and size, scholars believe this structure was very important at Uxmal. Indeed, Catherwood depicts this building twice in the twenty-five lithographs from his six week Uxmal experience.

Now observe the serpent motif of this lithograph. There is a protruding snake head on the left upper corner, and if one scans down toward the center of the picture, one sees a real snake lingering in front of the ruin. Catherwood completed his sketches upon returning to London and New York, so it is possible that he incorporated the snake to emphasize his belief that snakes were an important aspect of this part of the House of the Governor. [Spanish version].

ALEXANDRA VALERIO

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