Temple of Inscriptions
The Temple of Inscriptions is the funerary monument of K'ihnich Janaab' Pakal (AD 603-683). It is included in our overall discussion of the Temples of the Cross Group because its texts allude to the possibility that an earlier complex once stood there where the Cross Group now stands. The Temple of Inscriptions is also interesting because while Janaab' Pakal commissioned it, his son, K'ihnich Kan B'ahlam, oversaw its completion and dictated the contents of its inscriptions and exterior imagery.
In order to comprehend the symbolism of the Temple of Inscriptions it is important to have a general understanding of the Maya's conception of what occurs to the soul after death. In the Introduction to the section on structures, it was suggested the Maya make an analogy between the seed planted in the mound of earth and the body of the dead entombed in the pyramid—each was placed into the ground with the expectation of rebirth.
Nowhere is this analogy made as explicitly as on Kerr vessel 6547. The second scene of the rollout image illustrated here is in reality the first in the narrative and depicts the interment of a body on a stone bench, wrapped in a nine-knotted bundle. On the legs of the stone bench are inscribed two glyphs ochb'ihaj (road-enter) and a'k (turtle or architectural vault). These terms reference the fact that the souls of the deceased have left the body and are perhaps manifested in the animals perched on the personified mountain behind the bench. Flanking this mountain, on each side are three mourners. In the next scene instead of a bench superimposed before a personified mountain, we find a terraced pyramid with a prone skeletal at its base. Above this skeletal are three phytomorphic figures (a composite of human and vegetable forms). The central one is identified by a glyph in his headdress as the deceased figure of the previous scene, probably here depicted with his two parents or some other set of ancestors.
The Temple of Inscriptions may be understood in a like manner. K'ihnich Janaab' Pakal was planted into the interior of the structure as a seed is into the center of a mound of earth. The imagery of his sarcophagus makes this explicit and is comparable to the image of the Maize God sprouting from the jaws of the portal seen in this drawing of the San Francisco capstone (see Carrasco and Hull 2002).
Additional images and commentary will be added in the Spring of 2006.