Kinich Kakmó

North of the main plaza of Izamal is the temple of Kinich Kakmó, an artifical limestone pyramid in the Yucatan dedicated to one of the area's most important and notable deities of the same name. Kinich Kakmó, which is Mayan for "the fire macaw with the sun face", is a solar deity which was said to bring about scorching heat and drought. There are glyphic references to Kinich Kakmó and other variations of the deity in Mayan codices like the Dresden Codex, which sought to document and give ethnographic accounts of indigenous Mayan society. It is possible that Kinich Kakmó and a variation called Kinich Ahau were seen as the same solar deity but in different forms, macaw and human respectively (One possible translation of Kinich Ahau is "face of the sun"). Although there are documents and codices that acknowledged Kinich Kakmó, conceptualizing or understanding the solar deity's role in the Mayan pantheon of gods can be confusing because there is never a consistent identity or physical manifestation of the gods. Besides Kinich Kakmó's identity as a solar deity, he can be seen as a multipurpose deity who would receive sacrificial offerings for a variety of different reasons. However, sacrificial offerings for Kinich Kakmó would be offered during the scorching heat because the sun was seen as a natural manifestation of the same god.

The temple of Kinich Kakmó today is partially underground and overgrown by grass and flowers. The entirety of the temple has a volume of approximately 700,000 cubic meters. It was erected anywhere between 400 - 600 CE, which places it right during the Mayan classic period. It was during this period that the Maya, especially in the Yucatan, heavily urbanized. The temple was a site of daily sacrifice to Kinich Kakmó, who was said to descend upon the temple in the form of a macaw to pick up the offerings. The temple is constructed out of massive stones, the biggest of which make up the corners and the steep staircase leading to the top. Although the temple's basic foundation has managed to stay well-preserved, originally there would have been a bright coat of stucco decorating the entire pyramid. Today, the temple only appears as an artificial limestone pyramid, decorated in dirt and foliage rather than stucco. The temple follows one Mayan architectural tradition, which is that it was probably built on top of an older pyramid or structure. It is also unclear whether the base of the pyramid was intentionally left underground, or if this was a natural development like the overgrowth that the structure later experienced.

Izamal before the Spanish conquest was probably one of the biggest Mayan urban centers in the northern Yucatan. Today, evidence of five major temples can still be seen in Izamal. The city today has been given the name "city of hills", which is in reference to the temples resembling artificial mountains. Although some of the important pre-Columbian monuments of Izamal were destroyed or occupied by Spaniards, The temple of Kinich Kakmó still stands unperturbed by anything except for weathering.

Images

Temple of Kinich Kakmo

Temple of Kinich Kakmo

Photograph from the front of the temple. This is not the entire temple, as some of it is buried underground View File Details Page

View of Izamal

View of Izamal

The view from atop the temple of Kinich Kakmo. View File Details Page

Corner View

Corner View

Another angle of the temple of Kinich Kakmo. You can see that it is partially overgrown by grasses and flowers. View File Details Page

Street Address:

Kinich Kakmó, 97540 Izamal, Yucatan, Mexico [map]

Cite this Page:

Sean Pruetz, “Kinich Kakmó,” HistoricalMX, accessed November 24, 2017, http://historicalmx.org/items/show/95.

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