Acropolis Level 4: Chenes monster mouth temple.

Ek Balam Acropolis Level 4: The Sac Xoc Naj or "White House"

This Chenes-style Monster Mouth doorway leads to an inner room where the dynasty's founder, Ukit Kan Le'k Tok', was interred. During the funeral rites following his death, both this room and the burial room behind it were filled with rubble and sealed with inscribed capstones.

Because of this, the stucco-work on its façade has remained in such astonishingly good condition that it appears to have been completed only yesterday. Thus, we have a rare glimpse of a Mayan building as it actually looked at the time of its completion.

Alfonso Lacadena García-Gallo, collaborator epigrapher for the Ek Balam Architectural Restoration Program, writes that the capstone text says that this structure is called Sak Xok Naah, whose meaning could be "the Reading White House", or perhaps "the White House of Respect/Obedience", depending on the sense given to the word xok. Sak means "white".

According to the restoration team working at the site, this building was never painted in red like the other structures in the Acropolis, but instead maintained the natural color of the stucco.

Alfonso Lacadena García-Gallo, "The Glyphic Corpus from Ek' Balam, Yucatán, México", FAMSI 2004

Chenes zoomorphic entrance, snout of monster

Above the gaping mouth the monster's muzzle and two eyes appear. Presumably, a representation of Ukit Kan Le'k Tok' sits on top of the muzzle, although the head has unfortunately been lost.

The tomb itself is in the form of a huge Chenes-style monster mouth temple. A lower jaw, lined with teeth, protrudes from the central doorway. The doorway itself represents the upper jaw and is also lined with teeth. The monster's right eye can be seen above the muzzle at the top of the door. A small seated figure sits on the bottom eyelid, and is balanced on the left eyelid by a cross-legged figure.

Chenes zoomorphic entrance, upper jaw of monster with Ukit Kan Ke'k Tok' sitting above.

The monster's muzzle, upper teeth and left eye, with Ukit Kan Ke'k Tok' sitting above. The top left portion of the temple has suffered some damage, so the figures on that side have unfortunately lost their heads.

Chenes zoomorphic entrance, monster's right eye with figure sitting on its lower lid.

The monster's right eye with small courtly figure sitting on its lower lid.

Chenes zoomorphic entrance, closeup of small figure sitting on monster's right eyelid.

Closeup of the small courtly figure sitting on the monster's right eyelid.

Acropolis Level 4: Small mural on right door jamb of Room 42.

Small mural on right door jamb of Room 42

These elegant little figures are painted on the door jamb of Room 42 adjacent the Chenes Monster Mouth entrance to Ukit Kan Lek Tok's tomb. I have heard them described as scribes, which would fit with the inscription describing Sac Xoc Naj as the "White House of Reading/Learning".

Although it can't be seen in this photo, each of the seated figures in the top register appears to be wearing a bluegreen gem at their neck so they are undoubtedly of aristocratic status. The principal figure appears to be holding a Maya foldout book or table, similar to a Mayan codex of astronomical calculations.

Because they are painted in black and wearing only a loincloth and medalians on their chests and headdresses, they are strikingly similar to figures found during William Saturno's excavation of the astronomer's house at Xultun in the Peten. Thus, these figures might well be court astronomers employed to do calendrical calculations related to the timing of ritual events.

One figure in the lower register appears to be climbing a stair carrying a basket on his head. The whole graffito appears to represent a room or temple at the top of a pyramid, possibly even the White House of Learning or "Sac Xoc Naj".

Location of White Temple door jamb with graffiti characters on jamb of Room 42.

These little murals can be seen about two-thirds up the right doorjamb of the building adjacent to Monster Mouth, Room 42.

Maya hut adjacent to White Temple

Room 42 of the acropolis complex is a lovely representation of a traditional Mayan hut and stands to the right of the Chenes style doorway. The roof here is also in the form of a monster mask, with a protruding nose and a row of teeth (including "T" shaped front teeth), as well as small eyes just below the central moulding.

The little figures are painted on the right door jamb.

3D Stucco warrior on Acropolis White House

Ek Balam: Acropolis

These figures wear feathered backracks which were a part of the traditional ritual costume of the Maya. The costumes seen here are reminiscent of the Toltec warriors portrayed on the Codz Poop at Kabah.

Warrior figure on White Temple, side view

I may be mistaken, but it looks to me like this figure may be arising out of another monster mouth set in the corner of the building. Could that be an eye (complete with eyelashes and eyelid) to the left of the figure's shoulder? Is the small platform where the figure stands part of the lower jaw of this monster, and are those teeth and a forked tongue to the left of the legs?

Warrior figure