Str. 22a

Copan Structure 22A: Popol Nah or Council House

On the west side of 18 Rabbit's temple at Copan stood the Popul Nah, or 'Council House,' an identification first made by Barbara Fash. As with the Popol Nah we saw at Waxaktun, great mats carved in mosaic stone decorate the upper surfaces of the building. At Copan, the upper wall also displays portraits of lords seated in majesty upon the glyphs that might represent localities in the domain. Like the council house at Waxaktun, the working space of this meeting place was not the close interior of the shrine but a space outside, under the sun and stars.

A wide porch in front of the house provided space for the council to meet. Barbara Fash also discovered that the location had a second great function--the teaching and performance of sacred dance. A second low platform, much longer and wider than the porch, lay in front of the Popol Nah, all along the western side of the East Court. It is littered with the remains of stone censers. From this platform, dancers could easily move out onto the terraces that run along the south side of Temple 11, and along the north side of the Acropolis. The ceremonial view of the audiences standing within the East and West Courts may have been restricted, but the pageants that began at the Popol Nah could expand into the far larger and more visible plaza spaces north of the Acropolis.

Freidel, Schele, Parker, Maya Cosmos, p. 152