Tikal: Maler's Palace

Central Acropolis: Mahler's Palace

Maler's Palace in the foreground and Temple V in the background are most likely the work of the same lord, Yax Ain II, 29th ruler of Tikal, son of Yik'in Chan K'awil and grandson of the great Hasaw Chan K'awil. Yax Ain II also built Twin Pyramid Group Q and Group R. Stela 22 in Complex Q records Yax Ain II's accession data as 25 December AD 768.

Maler's Palace, or Structure 5D-65, gets it name from Teoberto Maler, an early explorer who lived in this structure during two expeditions in 1895 and 1904 and left his signature engraved on a jam in the central dooway.


Tikal: Maler's signature

Teoberto Maler's signature

Mahler inscribed his name in the plaster of Structure 5D-65, along with the dates of his two visits in 1895 and 1904.

Harrison writes: "It must be remembered that the whole of this architectural group was heavily overgrown by tall trees. The first story of the palace, however, stood largely intact, and Maler's descriptions of having to build a large fire outside the central doorway to keep roaring jaguars at bay are romantic and intriguing, to say the least.

The probability is that what he heard was the roar of the howler monkey, which closely resembles the call of the jaguar. This blood-curdling sound is still heard by visitors to the site today, and the howler monkeys do roar all night."

Peter Harrison, The Lords of Tikal, p.33


Tikal: Maler's Palace

Maler's Palace

"The lower story of Maler's Palace is composed of a series of rooms, arranged in two parallel ranges with additional rooms set at right-angles at the ends to form an "I" plan (see diagram).

A carved frieze is visible above the three doorways facing the court, and a few remaining traces on other sides indicate that this frieze originally ran entirely around the palace, but is now preserved only on the north side.

As in the temples, the doorways were without doors. The inner corners of the door jambs frequently have inset wooden dowels to which curtains could be attached from the inside.

Just above the doorways and beneath the carved frieze on the exterior, one can also see a row of small holes that once held wooden dowels from which curtains may have been hung, or perhaps a canopy suspended over the court-side platform."

William R. Coe, Tikal: A Handbook of the Ancient Maya Ruins, p.59

Pot G3

In this vase rollout from Tikal, the figure on the far left is presenting a feathered canopy to the seated ruler on the right. Perhaps canopies like this once graced the entrances to Maler's Palace.


Tikal: Entering Maler's Palace

Mahler's Palace

Entering the easternmost doorway into Maler's Palace. Note the interesting shield-like decoration on the top stair step.


Tikal: Maler's Palace graffiti Tikal: Maler's Palace graffiti

Ancient Graffiti [Photos by Marion Canavan: January 1998]

"Of particular interest are the graffiti, incised on the room walls, depicting ceremonial scenes and portraits.

Although ranging in quality from crude to very fine, those found on the walls of Maler's Palace are among the most interesting at Tikal."

William R. Coe, Tikal: A Handbook of the Ancient Maya Ruins, p.59


Tikal: Maler's Palace

Mahler's Palace

"Study has shown that various interior doorways were added, as were the second story, two exterior stairs, and all interior benches. Benches within the building were in some cases seats or even thrones for dignitaries, while in other cases they could have served as sleeping platforms. The interior wall plaster and wooden beams are original."

William R. Coe, Tikal: A Handbook of the Ancient Maya Ruins, p.59


Drawing of Maya bed

Sleeping platforms differ from thrones because they tend to be positioned away from doors & have dimensions proportional to the height of elite Mayan males (who tended to be taller than the general population). Sleeping platforms have sub-spring beams positioned near the foot of the bed where curtains could be hung for privacy and possibly protection against insects. Sleeping platforms tend to contact two or three walls, and may have a raised pillow-like area he calls a "backscreens".

Peter Harrison, The Central Acropolis, Tikal, Guatemala: A Preliminary Study of the Functions of its Structural Components during the Late Classic Period, 1970. Unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, p. 179

Maya throne drawing

Thrones can be distinguished from sleeping platforms because thrones tend to be centered on one wall and positioned so that they face a doorway. Thrones are wider than they are deep. They usually have sub-spring beams positioned on either side where fabrics could be hung. Thrones tend to have contact with one or possibly three walls, but never with only two.
(Peter Harrison, The Central Acropolis, Tikal, Guatemala: A Preliminary Study of the Functions of its Structural Components during the Late Classic Period, 1970. Unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, p. 179)


Maya throne scene from ceramic

The bottom scene comes from a painted ceramic found in Burial 196 at Tikal. Notice the tied-back curtain above and to the side of the throne. Also note the jaguar pelt slipcovers on the throne, which in addition to being associated with royalty, doubtless made this style of furnishing more inviting to sit upon.