Palenque: The Palace [January 1, 2004]

Water-lilies and frogs [left photo] and grotesque faces [right photo] decorate the area under which the king stands. The symbolism of waterlilies was especially important to the ancient Maya. Schele and Miller write:

"...raised-field farming...was practiced along slow-moving rivers and in swampy areas. Canals were cut between fields and their bottom matter placed on the prepared fields to enrich the soil. Periodically, when the canals were dredged, the bottom detritus was again used to fertilize the fields. The attributes associated with this type of farming--the chest-deep water, the water-lilies that grew in the canals, the fish that lived in them, the birds that ate both plant and fish and the caiman that ate everything--came to symbolize abundance and the bounty of the earth."

Schele & Miller, The Blood of Kings, p.11