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Chaak Wall

By June 10, 2010April 8th, 2018Photography, Travel Journal

Climbing the first staircase of the absurdly named Codz Poop, “Palace of the Masks,” we were presented with a second consecutive and even intensified jaw-dropping sight. Before us stood a twenty-foot tall, 150 foot wide building covered with 250 large stone masks of the frankly terrifying lord Chaak. Now Chaak is not new to the cast of characters as he is the most prominent of all representations at Uxmal. However, never has he been more intimidating or overpowering. Each mask is a few feet square complete with maniacal “googly eyes,” full teeth borne and the trademark hook nose not dissimilar to a toucan’s. Even the steps to the structure’s doorways are fronted with steps fashioned from enlarged Chaak noses.

Chaak with all of his features of folly, leaves the most unsettling sensation in the pit of the stomach. The protruding nose, while reminiscent of some of the jungle’s most handsome fowl, wields an ominous shape that of a tool intended for more sinister occupations. From behind the nose, a snarling wide mouth flashes two dentist’s nightmare rows of irregular teeth, chipped and cracked as though munching on a mouthful of stone that forms the face itself. And the face of Chaak leaves little to suggest any true human qualities though traditionally his body (when present) is a hybrid of human, reptilian and amphibian form. But no single feature pierces quite like Chaak’s eyes. Not dissimilar to that stalking yet cute stack of money, I’m sure they’d rattle if shaken. These eyes are piercing and distressing, though, a hundred fold more than any corporate mascot. Two eyes are enough to make one look away and avoid all direct eye contact but 500 plus is powerful enough to inflict paranoia complexes and incite panic.

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