Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hombre Verdadero - Halach Huinic

The great Mexican archaeologist, Cesar Saenz excavated at Palenque during the early 50's, under the direction of Alberto Ruz. Here you see a picture of Saenz at the site of Xochicalco where he is displaying one of its unusual stela.

At Palenque, one of Saenz' many projects was to explore the twin temples, XVIII and XVIIIa. Within those buildings, he found 7 burials, 6 of which contained artifacts indicating that the persons buried there were royal. As you can see, the buildings are in ruin.

Here is one of the jade pieces that was found in Tomb 2. It is displayed in the site museum. When Saenz described it, he wrote that this was an image of "halach huinic" in a seated position and Ruz describes it simply as a figure between two snakes (note the creatures on either side of the man's head). This iconographic image is the same one found throughout the Classic Maya region, so it has been studied by Mayanists again and again. More recently, many scholars have interpreted this figure as that of the maize god. I had not seen this image as labeled "halach huinic" previously, so I went to the Google Books website to try to find books where this word is used and in what context. I found several books that interpret it as meaning as in Spanish as "hombre verdadero" or "true man" (JES Thompson 1975; Ferrero 2002; Gonzalez 1998). Somehow I think that the word has lost something in the translation.