Tikal: The Temple of the Masks (Templo II)

The Templo Del Mascaras (Templo II), from Tikal
Fig. W0854: Templo II
Templo II at Tikal is also known as the Templo Del Mascaras (Temple of the Masks) due to a pair of grotesque masks which flank the stairway on the platform on which the temple rests. However, its function was actually as a mausoleum for Lady Kalajuun Une’ Mo’ (Lady Twelve Macaw Tails) who was the wife of the great King Jasaw Chan K’awiil I who reigned between 682-734 AD and is buried within Templo 1 which lies 70 metres due east on the opposite side of the main plaza. 

Temple 2 is officially named Temple 5D-2 and is intriguingly stylistically vastly different to Templo 1, which has nine tiers with rounded corners and rises 47 metres in a quintessentially Mayan style. Temple Two has only 3 tiers with sharp defined edges and features a more squat and robust appearance yet still reaches an impressive 37 metres (including its temple and roof comb). On close inspection it would seem the pyramidal base was initially designed to rise further. If you look at fig. W0854, you can see that the three tiers drop in size uniformly from a depth of 32m at the base, to 23m on the 3rd tier, then the Temple and its platform suddenly The Templo Del Mascaras (Templo II), from Tikal
Templo II
drop to a depth of just 10m. The result is that the Temple visibly looks too small, but also looks like one or two additional tiers were aborted and the temple was built at the correct size, but on the wrong level.

The temple dates from the Late Classic Period and was probably built by order of King Jasaw Chan K’awiil I as it houses his late wife. However, it is thought to have been completed by the pairs eldest child and heir, Yik’in Chan K’awiil, who is also thought to have erected Templo I in memory of his father. 


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