Str. 19

Yaxchilan: Looking Toward the Labyrinth from the Great Plaza [January 3, 2004]

"The plaza lay under a soft mat of grass kept trimmed by maintenance workers using machetes. A canopy of scattered ceibas, crusted with epiphytes, filtered the light into flickering bars and motes. The trees' spacing among the empty plinths where stelas had been hauled off to museums was as aesthetically pleasing as the spacing of the existing stelas themselves. You could very easily imagine them linking the realms of the visible and the invisible, the upper and the lower, and holding up the sky.

At spatially harmonious intervals, intact stelas blended their verticality with the ceibas they symbolized, low altars interspersed among them. Surrounding the plaza, the temples, in various states of restoration or decrepitude, enclosed the open space and distinguished it from the profane exterior surroundings. The scale was at once human and monumental, and thirteen hundred years after its construction instilled in us a profound tranquillity."

Christopher Shaw, Sacred Monkey River: A Canoe Trip with the Gods, p. 272-3