The Temple of the Bearded Man in Chichen Itza

Temple of the Bearded man in Chichen Itza

The Temple of the Bearded Man is perhaps the best preserved of the buildings that surround the Great Ball Court, the Temple gets its name from a strange bearded man who heads the scene. It is based on a wall of three stepped bodies that, together with the staircase that sits on a platform. 

The effect of the Itza people and its religious ideas can be seen in this building, which was subsequently built into the Grand Ball Court, attaching to the north wall that enclosed it. It’s also known as the Grand Ball Court’s North Temple measuring 10 m long and 6 m wide, with slanted walls and a central staircase facing south. The Temple sits on top of a platform 14 m long and 8 m wide.

It consists of a single chamber or room with an inverted roof. In its façade there is a slope that ends in a slight protruding molding; then a vertical wall comes up to the height of the lintels that are supported by two columns with bas-reliefs. It’s followed by a board strip that ends in a molded cornice and then comes the smooth frieze, finished off in another inverted crown with molding.

It has flagstones decorated with trees that have their roots in the earth, with plant branches that climb spiraling on its trunks. Butterflies and birds flutter around the trees, while others stand on the branches. Above these trees, Quetzalcoatl or Kukulkan appears as man-bird-serpent with his face emerging from the jaws of a serpent with a forked tongue and feathered body.

Introduction of a new architectural feature in The Temple of the Bearded Man

The Temple of the Bearded Man introduces a new architectural feature, the slope and vertical wall that was common in Xochicalco, Morelos; which becomes of general use in Chichen Itza also presented other modalities, such as the columns decorated with bas-reliefs, the high jambs with figures of warriors, the inferior panel with the effigy of the man-bird-serpent, and the Mayan vault totally decorated with a variety of everyday and religious scenes.

The back wall of The Temple of the Bearded Man

In a part of the back wall there is a scene in which the deity Kukulkan appears seated on a jaguar throne, marked by an oval formed by a feathered serpent; on each side of the god there are seven characters, chiefly warriors with an atlatl or spear, darts and rear discs in the belt, one of them looks like a chief with a snake in the background.

Wall of The Temple of the Bearded Man in Chichen Itza
Wall of The Temple of the Bearded Man in Chichen Itza

The second row of The Temple of the Bearded Man

In the next row you find the priest and ruler, with a robe clothed with The third or precious stones, with seven people sitting on his left, all of whom have butterfly pecs; on his right, six other dignitaries are also seated.

The third row of the wall of The Temple of the Bearded Man

Below them, there’s another row of individuals, seven on the left, two of them in eagle costumes, and seven on the right, two of them standing on the roof of a house or temple, inside which there are two characters seated.

Last row of the wall of The Temple of the Bearded Man

Finally, below, you can see the Lord and priest Kukulkan dead, dressed in his tunic of chalchihuites and with a two-headed serpent that starts from his waist towards the head and feet, as if to protect him; on either side of him there are two seated individuals, one of them as if coming out of a snail, with vegetal interlacing.

The whole set is related to the Itzaes and Kukulkan, with the god that appears in the upper part or sky, with the lord-priest who bore the same name and who relied on warriors, nobles and priests on the earth, guarded by the deity and the gods of the four directions, perhaps the Bacabes or Pauahtun.

The wardrobe of the characters is the same as of the Great Ball Game: cotton padded sleeves, nose bar, back discs on the belt, feathered headdresses, eagle or bird costumes, butterfly breastplate, as well as vegetal interlacing and scrolls.

Location of the Temple of the Bearded Man in Chichen Itza

The Temple of the Bearded Man in Chichen Itza is located in the north side of the Great Ball Court. In front of it, all the way on the other side of the Court you will find the Great Ball Court’s South Temple, and on its left, the Temple of the Jaguar.

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