By Stanislav Chládek
Exploring Maya Ritual Caves bargains a unprecedented survey and explication of many of the recognized old Maya ritual caves in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. The caves have been the Maya underworld, the place rituals, together with animal and human sacrifice, have been performed. The Maya cave cult and mythology, development and amendment of the caves, and cult artwork and artifacts are mentioned. Chládek, an intrepid explorer, then describes very important caves that he has lately visited and gives photographs in their wonders.
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Extra resources for Exploring Maya Ritual Caves: Dark Secrets from the Maya Underworld
1. Drawing of the quatrefoil ol portal from Chalcatzingo, Morales, Mexico. The monument was a thin stone slab embellished with a frontal depiction of the Earth Monster. It was a living object, with plants growing in its corners. The opening was big enough for a small person to pass through, perhaps during a ritual. The slab may have been positioned as an entrance in a temple wall, or as a horizontal cover for a subterranean chamber. Perhaps a sacrificial victim passed through it on his or her way to the underworld.
Pak Ch’en Cave vulva motifs, Quintana Roo, Mexico. Photo courtesy of Dominique Rissolo. indb 49 6/20/11 10:43 AM 50 / Chapter 2 leading to a twelve-meter-deep pool. 19). 12). The Mayas were certainly aware of the connection of this cave cenote with the nearby Caribbean Sea, where the underground system Sac Actun spills into the sea in nearby Caleta Tancah, Cenote Manatee, and Casa Cenote farther north. Freshwater springs in the sea have long been known as ojos de aqua (eyes of water). The Maya may have swum in some of these passages all the way to the sea; the sea’s depths may have represented the underworld.
Naj Tunich Cave olla altar located deep in K’u Multun Maze, Petén, Guatemala. Photo courtesy of Chip Clark. indb 46 6/20/11 10:43 AM Caves and the Maya / 47 rifice). 15). The stalagmite stands as a gateway to an upper-level room (apparently a shrine), which contains a small altar. A stone box with stalactite fragments and an intact vessel were also found here. Cave Rock Art Petroglyphs and Sculptures Both petroglyphs (carved images) and pictographs (painted images) fall under the general term of rock art.