John Pohl, THE CODICES John Pohl's


El TAJÍN  (circa A.D. 600-1150)

El Tajín is located 130 miles northeast of México City and is easily reached from there, Veracruz, or Tampico. Emerging at the end of the seventh century A.D., El Tajín dominated the northern Atlantic Gulf Coast region throughout both the Classic and Epi-Classic periods and eventually became a source of stylistic influence for Chichén Itzá, Cholula, and Cacaxtla. The site was ultimately abandoned by A.D. 1150, but the ruins continue to be revered by the local Totonac people, who may have displaced the original Huaxtec residents around that time.

Image - Monument from Structure 5

A monument carved in the image of a deceased ancestor with its arms crossed over its chest was found in excavations of Structure 5. The polygonal shape is akin to a giant “palma”, a piece of protective equipment used by ball players. There were no less than seventeen ballcourts mapped at El Tajín. Veracruz has traditionally been Mesoamerica’s chief rubber producing region, which may explain why a game played with a rubber ball was not only a sport but also the focus of religious ritual as well. Click on Image for more detail.

Image - The Pyramid of the Niches

The Pyramid of the Niches has been El Tajín’s defining architectural feature since its discovery during the eighteenth century. It is over sixty feet tall. Each of its six stages is deeply shadowed by out-thrusting cornices and window-like niches. The deep relief was intended to create animating effects with shadow and light as the sun crossed the sky throughout the day. Click on Image for more detail.

Image - Ballcourt relief panel

A relief panel from the northeast wall of the South Ballcourt depicts the ritual execution of a ballplayer while a death god witnesses amid swirls of smoke or mist to the left. The participants in the ritual are wearing yokes, palmas, and knee pads to protect them during play. Solid rubber balls could weigh in excess of fifteen pounds. Click on Image for more detail.

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