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Palenque Jade Secrets

Secrets of jade: the Temple of the Inscriptions of Palenque

Rutopía editorial team
Rutopía editorial team
- min read

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The archaeological zone of Palenque was one of the most powerful Mayan cities along with Chichén Itzá. This site is located northeast of Chiapas, near the Usumacinta River, and stands out for its imposing architecture and for being the home of multiple pre-Hispanic expressions, both artistic and cultural, an example of this is the magnificent Temple of the Inscriptions; one of the most impressive structures of the site.

Among the buildings of Palenque, there is an aqueduct that guides the stream and crosses the city through the vaults located under the main square. In the middle of the main esplanade is the Temple of the Count. To the north, there is a palace and a small ball game. Finally, to the southeast, accompanied by two small buildings, is the Temple of the Inscriptions.

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On the other hand, its name in Maya is B’lunt Yej Teʼ Naah which means: House of the Nine Sharp Spears in reference to the nine levels of Xibalba, the Maya underworld. Also, the construction of this pyramid ended approximately in the year 675 A.D. and from that time until now it measured 23 meters high and was larger than Palenque.

zona arqueologica de palenque chiapas mexico templo de las inscripciones





The function of the Temple of the Inscriptions

The building was constructed during the reign of K’inich Janahb Pakal. Its main function was to preserve his remains. In the beginning, it was thought that the sarcophagus was located at the top of the pyramid, but in 1949 an archaeologist discovered access to the tomb through a secret staircase that is a meter and a half below the ground.

Jewelry and a jade mosaic mask were found inside the tomb. In addition, the walls of the crypt show the death of the ruler and his descent to the underworld as narrated in the Popol Vuh, the sacred book of the Maya. The nine lords of the night of Mayan mythology are also represented.

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In the last decade, the National Institute of Anthropology and History discovered a series of canals that run under the tomb of Pakal; these symbolize the path that would guide the ruler to the waters of Xibalba.


On its interior walls, the Temple of Inscriptions has three panels with a total of 617 hieroglyphs. All made in stucco relief. They tell the history of the city and its rulers. As in the Chilim Balam, the collection of books that tells the history of the civilization, there are references to events repeating themselves. 




The colors that decorated the walls were blue, yellow, and red. The latter is primarily the background color. Yellow is related to Xibalba and the jaguars. Blue represented the gods and hieroglyphic writing.


The Temple of Inscriptions has played a very important role in the study of the Mayan world. Palenque has a site museum where you can learn more about this fascinating culture. Now you are ready to visit the temple of inscriptions without missing anything important!

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