Stela H

Stela H

"This magnificent stela depicts Waxaklahun-Ubah-K'awil in the role of the Maize God as he danced at Creation.

In the Classic-period story of Creation, the Maize Gods are the central characters in the drama that explains the processes of death and rebirth through confrontation with the Lords of Death in Xibalba.

Classic-period imagery shows the Maize Gods being reborn from a snake, growing from infancy to adulthood, and being dressed in full regalia by beautiful young women.

This regalia included a net skirt, a fish monster-and-shell belt, and a huge backrack carrying one of three animals who would become the Throne Stones of the Cosmic Hearth.

Once fully dressed, the Maize Gods danced in the company of dwarves and began the activities that led to the Fourth Creation.

Waxaklahun-Ubah-K'awil reenacts this dance on Stela H, and to reinforce his identity, he wears a huge zoomorphic Maize God headdress with the leaves and ear of the plant arching over his head."

Linda Schele & Peter Mathews, The Code of Kings: The Language of Seven Sacred Maya Temples and Tombs, p. 154


Stela H

"The text records the erection of Stela H, gives its proper name, and identifies its owner as Waxaklahun-Ubah-K'awil.

The date, 9.14.19.5.0 (December 5, 731), is exactly nineteen tropical years after the erection of Stela C, and four k'atuns after Stela 3, the pivotal stela in K'ak'-Nab-K'awil's monument program.

Waxaklahun-Ubah-K'awil's motivation in choosing this date was to have the stars and the Milky Way in exactly the same positions as they were on the dates when Stelae 3 and C were erected."

Linda Schele & Peter Mathews, The Code of Kings: The Language of Seven Sacred Maya Temples and Tombs, p. 156


Stela H

Photo courtesy of Reca Fernandez. Thank you Reca!


Stela H

Photo courtesy of Reca Fernandez


Stela H

Photo courtesy of Reca Fernandez


Elizabeth Kelemen at Copan, 1940

Copan: Elizabeth Kelemen at Stela H in 1940

Pál & Elizabeth Kelemen were pioneers in the field of Mesoamerican Art History.

Visiting Copán in 1940, Elizabeth wrote:

"The monument-studded field with its surrounding buildings and the distant mountains beyond must have been an overwhelming and stunning panorama...While certain Maya sites, excavated more recently, could be placed among the most monmental of the classical Maya era, it is still Palenque and Copán, which in their variety and visual impact reach the pinnacle of Maya art."

Pál & Elizabeth Kelemen, The Kelemen Journals: Incidents of Discovery of Art in the Americas, 1932–1964, p. 58, 63


Stela H

 "The imagery along the sides, between his body and the feathers of his backrack, reiterate the themes of resurrection and fertility.

Twisted cords of the cosmic umbilicus rise from the inside of a hollow glyph reading sak, 'white,' because the umbilicus carries the kind of soul the Maya called sak nik, 'white flower.'

The white signs hold wayob, 'animal-spirit companions,' conjured from the Otherworld.

Square-nosed serpents with glyphs for 'white flower' attached to their noses terminate the twisted cords.

These 'white flower' signs refer both to the flowers that grow on the branches of the Wakah-Kan World Tree and to the human soul, because we humans are like the flowers of this tree.

Clinging to the twisted cords like monkeys are four Maize Gods."[pictured above]

Linda Schele & Peter Mathews, The Code of Kings: The Language of Seven Sacred Maya Temples and Tombs, p. 154-55


Stela H

The stela's rear (east) side represents the maize god's backrack, and contains complicated imagery representing the central axis of the world and insignia for the cosmic levels that the world tree unites.

The backrack is is framed by a magnificent array of tied quetzal feathers.

"The feathers of the king's backrack, which in his actual costume would have been as green as the brilliant foliage of growing maize, ripple around his figure, framing his headdress and flowing in the wind like young leaves."

Elizabeth Newsome, Trees of Paradise and Pillars of the World: The Serial Stela Cycle of "18-Rabbit-God K," King of Copan, p. 129