White Temple: The tomb of Ukit Kan Le'k Tok'

The tomb of Ukit Kan Le'k Tok' is decorated with images from the underworld

The burial place of Ukit Kan Le'k Tok', the founder and Kalompte of the Ek Balam Dynasty, is in Room 49 immediately behind the Chenes-style Monster Mouth entryway seen here.

After the funeral rites, this whole area, including the exterior of the Chenes-style temple, was filled in with rubble and sealed with an inscribed capstone. This accounts for the extraordinarily intact condition of the stuccos today.

Short stair leading up to White Temple platform

The area underneath the platform is decorated with images from the watery underworld, including skulls and intertwining water lilies.

For the Maya, the underworld represented not only death and decay but also a source of riches and fertility. For example, at the Temple of the Foliated Cross in Palenque, maize leaves are depicted sprouting from a skull.

The patterned border under the monster's jaws represents the watery underworld
Capstone placed over Ukit Kan Le'k Tok's burial room

Ukit Kan Le'k Tok's burial room immediately behind the Chenes style monster entryway was filled in and sealed, and the capstone placed over that room had a painted image of the young maize god residing in his supernatural place and a glyphic text reading "He is the King, Ukit Kan Le'k Tok" -- thus deifying and idealized him as the maize god himself.

The maize god represented cyclic death and regeneration to the Maya and commonly appears in funeral ware which show him in the guise of the soul of a deceased person dancing out of the underworld after defeating the Lords of Death. In the creation myth of the Popol Vuh, people are said to have been made of maize dough.

Waterlily bud motifs mark this region as the watery underworld

Waterlily buds mark this region as the watery underworld

Classic image of fish nibbling on a waterlily represents the underworld

Fish nibbling on a waterlily is a classic Maya image of the underworld

This also doubled as an image of fertility. The great Mayanist Linda Schele wrote that "a particularly important title of classic nobility was People of the Waterlily." This motif was used to decorate the area underneath the king's feet in the Palace panels at Palenque. It was also used as a headress element in Bonampak Stela 2 where it is worn by Chaan Maun's mother (Chaan Maun appears to be looking directly at the fish/waterlily in his mother's headdress).

Skeletal figure from the watery underworld

A skeletal figure from the watery underworld. We can tell it is skeletal because of the drill-holes in the skull.

Skeletal figure from the watery underworld

Ukit Kan Le'k Tok's burial site contained rich offerings, including a rare frog-figured golden pendant, pearls, decorated vessels and more than 7,000 jadeite, shell, bone and pyrite pieces.