Puuc Architecture: The Temple of the Magician at Uxmal

Puuc style architecture is predominant in the Puuc region of Mexico. The style came about in the Late Classic period but continued on and advanced during the Terminal Classic period. Puuc style has heavy influences of artistic appreciation with the prevalence of patterns and horizontal lines usually lining the upper portion of important buildings along with mask depicting their chosen God of worship. The construction of the buildings is often built atop of a raised platform and built with limestone, which was readily available in Mexico. After the initial construction the building was then covered in stucco and decorated in bright colors like red, turquoise, and gold coloration. Uxmal is considered the most important representation of Puuc architecture but it can also be found at sites like Ednza and Chichen Itza.

The Puuc architecture present at Uxmal is the most advanced and most prevalent than any other site in the Puuc region. The abundance of corbal arched doorways and distinct boot-shaped stones, which were designed specifically for supporting vaulting, can be found almost nowhere else besides Uxmal. The Temple of the Magician is especially significant to Uxmal's Puuc architecture. The base of the temple measures about 227 by 162 feet and is approximately 91 feet in height. The temple contains three levels that have two distinct profiles. This leads archeologist and scholars to believe that the temple had separate phases in building beginning in the 6th century and finally ending in the 10th century. The Temple of the Magician is also known for its distinctive rounded corners which, when seen from above, give the temple an oval shape. This oval shape isn’t seen throughout the Maya region and is specific to Uxmal. Climbing the west side of the temple sits a steep staircase that is decorated with carved mask which leads to the main doorway where a carved serpent’s mouth can be found. The Temple of the Magician is one-of-a-kind in the Maya world with techniques that can only be found at Uxmal

Images

Uxmal

Uxmal

Uxmal is one of the most important archaeological Maya sites in both culture and architecture. It has also been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its significance. Although Uxmal is well-known, little is known about the ancient city due to lack of excavations. Even the city's dates and population remain a mystery. | Source: Miller, Mark. “Treasures of Mexico: The Mixtec, Aztec & Maya Codices That Survived the Conquistadors.” Ancient Origins, Ancient Origins, www.ancient-origins.net/artifacts-ancient-writings/treasures-mexico-mixtec-aztec-maya-codices-survived-conquistadors-003245. View File Details Page

The Temple of the Magician

The Temple of the Magician

The Temple of the Magician or Temple of the Dwarf is the tallest and most recognizable building in Uxmal. The temple was named for a myth telling of a God named Itzamna who single-handedly erected the temple in a single night using his magic. | Source: “Home.” Viator | Travel with an Insider, www.viator.com/Riviera-Maya-and-the-Yucatan-attractions/Uxmal/d770-a1476. View File Details Page

Puuc region

Puuc region

Puuc was named for the Maya world "hill" because of the range of hills that reside in the southern portion of the Yucatan. The region extends into northern Campeche and the western portion of Quintana Roo. The Puuc region birthed style of architecture that was prevalent in the Late Classic and Terminal Classic period. | Source: Athena Review 2,2: Puuc, Chenes, and Rio Bec Styles of the Late Classic Maya, www.athenapub.com/puuc.htm. View File Details Page

Chaac

Chaac

The God most found at Uxmal and found throughout the Temple of the Magician is Chaac. Chaac is assimilated with rain and fertility and is usually depicted either as a mask with "google" eyes and ear plugs or as a serpent (which can be seen atop of the Temple of the Magician). | Source: “Pyramid of the Magician.” Thousand Wonders, www.thousandwonders.net/Pyramid+of+the+Magician. View File Details Page

Uxmal Uncovered

Uxmal Uncovered

The first detailed account of Uxmal was published by Jean Frederic Waldeck in 1838. In the 1840's John Stephens and Fredrick Catherwood made two archaeological visits to photograph and sketch the site and in 1909 a map was made by Sylvanus Morley. | Source: “Mystic Places.” Rebuilding Ancient Monuments in Mesoamerica, old.world-mysteries.com/alignments/mpl_restorations2.htm. View File Details Page

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Yucatán, Mexico [map]

Cite this Page:

Christina Wicker, “Puuc Architecture: The Temple of the Magician at Uxmal,” HistoricalMX, accessed November 24, 2017, http://historicalmx.org/items/show/103.

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