The iconography of this façade suggests divine kingship and political power and was designed to commemorate the enthronement of a new ruler, an event properly fixed in time with an inaugural date carved in the Yucatecan Maya tun/ahau convention.
The Maya were an agricultural people who depended on the rainy season to support agriculture as well as to fill massive chultuns which stored large amounts of water for human consumption during the dry season. Chaac the Rain God was therefore the most important deity in the dry Puuc region, as evidenced here by the number of his images decorating the buildings at Labná. And it was the king's role as ruler and priest to invoke the gods' protection and ensure plentiful rains.
The room group 19–20 is believed to be the last throne room complex built in the Palace.
It is an elaborated version of the earlier throne room 23–25: an antechamber connected to an inner room with a large platform throne. In the diagram, the throne platform in room 20 is as large as room 21 and occupies the northwest position in the complex.
Interrupting the plain medial molding upon which the mask rests are small flower-like designs with feather-like arrays hanging from their bottoms — which look like small blue ribbons awarded at agricultural fairs. In The Code of Kings, the Great Mayanist Linda Schele writes that these designs read as itz:
"In Yukatek, itz refers to substances like nectar, tree sap, candle wax, morning dew, and other sacred liquids. Itz also means 'to make magic,' so that this building is a house where magic was made."
Schele continues: "In ancient Maya parlance, this makes an Itzam Nah, a 'Conjuring House'."
Schele & Mathews, The Code of Kings, p. 265
The mask (seen head-on in the previous photo) was of particular interest because a Mayan shortcount date equivalent to September 19, 862 A.D. is carved on his nose. This date is presumably the date of the enthronement of the ruler who commissioned this throne room complex.
This is the only readable inscription found in situ at Labná and contains the only date.
Manuel Tomas Gallareta Negrón, The Social Organization of Labna, a Classic Maya Community in the Puuc Region of Yucatan, Mexico, Ph.D. Dissertation, Tulane University, 2013, p. 26
Glyphs line each side of the nose.
This glyphic tun/ahau date is equivalent to September 19, 862 AD. It documents the inauguration of the new throne room 19/20 and the installation of a new ruler.
Arched stairway leads to a stairway to the upper terrace
Note, in this and following photos, all the small itz signs on the moldings over the masks, which mark this building as a Conjuring House. Itz signs look like a small 'blue ribbon' or flower assembly.
The Maya were an agricultural people who depended on the rainy season to support agriculture as well as to fill massive chultuns which stored large amounts of water for human consumption during the dry season.
Chaac the Rain God was therefore the most important diety in the dry Puuc region, as evidenced here by the number of his images decorating the buildings at Labná.
Palace of Labná: detail of arch & stair passage to upper level
"The whole long façade was ornamented with sculptured stone..."
(Stephens, vol. 2, p. 36)
This late building phase of the palace displays particularly opulent and expensive stonework.
It is interesting to note that the conversion of the West Court into a food preparation area also took place at this time.
The masks decorating the building on the opposite side of the stairway lack ear-spools, and the molding lacks itz signs. Thus this building is not a "Conjuring House".
A Maya rainspout. Apparently the invocations of Chaac the Rain God were often successful.
Images of the rain god adorn the palace of Labna.
Chaac is everywhere apparent throughout the Puuc because of the uncertainly of the rains and their absolute necessity for survival.
The king was portrayed as intercessor to the gods, performing ceremonies necessary to insure that the rains came and the land was fertile and productive.