Puzzle of the Maya – Hieroglyphic Stairway

From Copan, Honduras

Conte Crayons 14 x 17

I stood below this grand monument, awestruck by the late afternoon sun licking the motifs upon its intricate stairway. A stela of a later king loomed nearby.

Built upon several other structures by the Maya king of Copan, this grand stairway retells the history of Copan in stone. My guide explains this has been the longest Maya text found ever, in 1260 glyphs carved upon 63 stairs narrating the story of the kings of yore and their valiant exploits in these lands.

Integrating the occult with history, this was also the secret pathway of the king to his ancestors as he ascended these steps to a grand temple perched above. Accompanied by chanting priests, here he would worship the kings of yesteryear and make his offerings to the many Maya Gods of the thirteen heavens. Incense from sacrificial altars would have clouded the place, adding to that sense of mystery.

Archaeologists in the early 1900s had found this place in an utter state of ruin, with only the stones making first 15 steps of the stairway mounted, and the others scattered on the forest floor. The Maya script hadn’t been decoded and eager professors had hastily rearranged the stones above based on visual appeal, completely scrambling a visual story that can never really be put together again!

All these months I had been wondering what the right medium was to depict such a scene – its eternal mystery, the puzzle and the incense smoke. I decided to employ a similar technique, keeping the architectural elements intact.

Check out my travel/art book Rambles into Sacred Realms


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