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

Plate 7 (bottom), Interior of Casa III at Palenque

Plate 7 (bottom), Interior of Casa III at Palenque

Plate 7 (bottom), Interior of Casa III at Palenque
(on stone, by H. Warren)

This image depicts the inside of the Temple of the Sun at Palenque, originally named for an interior tablet that appeared to honor the sun. However, archeologists have since found that the tablet features jaguar and royal imagery. Despite its apparent decay in Catherwood’s drawing, today’s scholars refer to the temple as “the most perfect of all Maya buildings.”

The series of archways highlighted by the middle corbelled arch is a prime example of classic Maya architecture. Although in an evident state of disrepair, Catherwood makes the temple’s careful construction the focus of the image. The indigenous guide sits on the floor of the stone temple and looks admiringly at the ruin. The viewer is compelled to follow his gaze through the archways and finally to the jungle beyond. [Spanish version].

KATE O’CONNOR-MORRIS and AYLA SCHLOSSER

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