Temple of the Warriors
Chichen-ltza, Yucatan, Mexico
March 1973

"They did not wish to join with the foreigners; they did not desire Christianity. They did not wish to pay tribute, did those whose emblems were the bird, the precious stone and the jaguar, those with the three magic emblems. Four four-hundreds of years and fifteen score years was the end of their oiki; then came the end of their lives, because they knew the measurement of their days. Complete was the month; complete, the year; complete, the day; complete, the night; complete, the breath of life as it passed also; complete, the blood, when they arrived at their beds, their mats, their thrones. In due measure did they recite the good prayers; in due measure they sought the lucky days, until they saw the good stars enter into their region; then they kept watch while the region of the good stars began. Then everything was good.

Then they adhered to the dictates of their reason. There was no sin; in the holy faith their lives were passed. There was then no sickness; they had then no aching bones; they had no high fever; they had then no smallpox; they had no burning chest; they had no abdominal pains; they had then no consumption; they had then no headache. At that time the course of humanity was orderly. The foreigners made it otherwise when they arrived here. They lost their innocence in carnal sin; they lost their innocence in carnal sin of Nacxit Xuchit, in the carnal sin of his companions. No lucky days were then displayed to us. This was the origin of the two-day chair (or throne), of the two-day region; this was the cause of our sickness also. There were no more lucky days for us; we had no sound judgment. At the end of our loss of vision, and of our shame, everything shall be revealed. There was no great teacher, no great speaker, no supreme priest, when the change of rulers occurred at their arrival. Lewd were the priests when they came to be established here by the foreigners. Furthermore, they left their descendants here at Tancah (Mayapan). These then received the misfortunes, after the affiiction of these foreigners. These, they saw, were the Itza. Three times it was, they say, that the foreigners arrived. It was because of this that we were relieved from paying tribute at the age of sixty, because of the affliction by these men, the Itza. It was not we who did it; it is we who pay for it today. However, there is at last an agreement so that there may be peace between us and the foreigners. Otherwise there will be a great war." The Book of Chilam Balam of Chum ayes.

Sixty grandiose quadrangular pillars surround the Temple of the Warriors. These Toltec stone colonnades originally constituted the sub-structure of this temple and held up the heavy beamed roofs that collapsed long ago. Every side of these pillars is covered with bas-reliefs that reveal traces of painting. They represent disciplined warriors standing at attention, ready for combat: the order of Soltec warriors. The left arm of each warrior is bound in a thick leather band, a sort of shield to ward off blows. While each right hand holds a javelin or an atlatc, a short, flat wooden spear-throwing device. In reality, these columns are a reminder of a new "order" forced on the people of the Yucatans by thc Toltecs at the end of the tenth century.

Previous page List of all photographs Next page

© 2004 by James A. McBride II, all rights reserved