back First Round Table: Early Travelers to Palenque Illustration close-up

(Click the picture to zoom in on the Temple of the Inscriptions.)


"The Temple of the High Hill" by Frederick Catherwood.

At Palenque, the small group of temples known as the Cross Group -- The Temple of the Cross, the Temple of the Sun, and the Temple of the Foliated Cross -- has been considered by many as the most aesthetically appealing as well as the most mysteriously alluring group of structures in all the Maya realm.

This allure (or his being ill with malaria) must have completely overcome Frederick Catherwood when he made his drawing of the Palace, the Temple of the Inscriptions, and the Cross Group [on which the lithograph above is based]. All of the other Catherwood drawings are so accurate that if a part is missing today we can assume with some assurance that it was originally the way that Catherwood drew it, but this one is distinctly mystical.

The Temple of the Incriptions looms high above the dwarfed Palace, and the Cross Group Temples are somehow behind the Temple of the Inscriptions instead of in the background between the Inscriptions and the Palace. Mirador, the mountain behind the Temple of the Foliated Cross, in his engraving looms above the Palace. The terrain looks very much like a well-trimmed English garden rather than a tropical rain forest.

-- From The Sculpture of Palenque, Volume IV , by Merle Greene Robertson.