Header for Xlapak photos

Xlapak is a very small site that is very close to Labná -- so close, in fact, that it may have actually been part of Labná.

There are three groups of buildings at Xlapak. These photos are from the first group exclusively.

Structure 1 is the only Group 1 building that is in good enough condition to be of interest to anyone but an archaeologist. It is an interesting example of the Classic Puuc Mosaic Style and dates to approximately A.D. 830 to 1000.

According to Joyce Kelly, Structure 1 (shown here) was restored by the Mexican government in the late 1960s.

The north side of Structure 1, the only intact structure at Xlapak

Xlapak Str. 1

"There are sets of Chac storm god masks in stacks of three on the corners of the upper facade and above the center doorways on the north and south sides. The masks rise above the coping course, which gives them special emphasis."

Joyce Kelly. An Archaeological Guide to Northern Central America: Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. University of Oklahoma Press. Norman and London 1996, p. 132

Note the raised platform and retaining wall upon which this building rests. This platform is between 1.5 and 3 feet high and probably had a plastered surface.

Stacks of rain god masks rise above the central door and on the building corners

Xlapak Str. 1

Pollock's expeditions were conducted under the auspices of the Peabody Museum at Harvard, and took place from 1932 through 1940.

"Northern range aparently conceived by builders after walls, and possibly vaults, of central and southern ranges had been built. Old north wall then thickened, in accordance with custom of making interior walls heavier than outer in order to carry weight of two vaults, and northern range built. Balanced design of decoration on east facade suggests facing of upper facade not applied until all vaults had been constructed, but may have been dismantling and rebuilding."

Pollock, H.E.D. The Puuc: An Architectural Survey of the Hill Country of Yucatan & Northern Campeche, Mexico. Memoirs of the Peabody Museum 19. Cambridge, Massachusetts. Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology 1980, p. 64

The Northeast corner mask stack of Structure 1

Xlapak Str. 1

"Alternating between the simple and the sophisticated, the "Chac" masks enliven some of the most brilliant architectonic creations of this flourishing phase. A good example of the process of simplification, of extreme "geometrization," which many of these masks underwent then, can be seen on the Palace at Xlapak, where they adorn large ornamental panels that highlight the roof level both at the corners and over the central doors."

Gendrop, Paul. Rio Bec, Chenes, & Puuc Styles in Maya Architecture. Labyrinthos Press. Lancaster, California 1998, p. 180-1

The central mask stack on the north side is quite distinct from the south side stack

Xlapak Str. 1

The design on the panel above the central door appears to be an identical but flattened version of the mask stack ornamenting the corners of the building (previous photo).

North side of Structure 1 has patterns of wind volutes framing the central mask

Xlapak Str. 1

The panels between the central of Chac mask stacks are identical to the panel on the east side of the great Portal Arch at Labná, and similar to motifs seen on the House of the Governor at Uxmal.

The volutes are thought to represent the winds associated with the rain god Chac. They swirl in a counter clockwise direction on the left and a clockwise direction on the right side of the panel.

This NW corner photo highlights the prominent mask stacks rising above roof level

Xlapak Str. 1

The south side of the building once faced a small courtyard with a chultun

Xlapak Str. 1

The southern portion of Structure 1 was apparently built slightly earlier than the northern part. A small chultun and its catch basin can be seen in front of the building. The ruins of Structure 2 can be seen in the right foreground.

Pollock noted during his expedition that a large number of chultunes were identified in the area near Structure 1 as well as presumably other places at the site. Chultunes are underground cisterns used in the Yucatan for collecting and storing water for use during the dry season.

Pollock, H.E.D. The Puuc: An Architectural Survey of the Hill Country of Yucatan & Northern Campeche, Mexico. Memoirs of the Peabody Museum 19. Cambridge, Massachusetts. Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology 1980, p. 60

The central mask stack on the south side has a quite different design

Xlapak Str. 1

The building faces a courtyard defined by Structures 1 & 2. Both buildings were supported by a large platform which was probably covered by a plaster floor. Such platforms typically connected various domestic structures grouped around a courtyard.

Closeup detail of decorations on the central Rain God mask on the south wall

Xlapak Str. 1

These features represent the eyes and snout of the rain god Chac.

The ruined west side of Structure 1 shows typical Puuc rubble fill construction

Xlapak Str. 1

Typical Puuc architecture consists of lower walls finished in plain stone veneer on the lower registers and elaborate stone mosaic work decorating the upper levels. Rooms topped with Mayan arches (without keystones) had thick walls with solid rubble fill.