|Object Name:||Monument 1: Relief of "El Rey" (The King)|
|Creation Date:||1000 BC - 200 BC|
|Image source:||© Dr. Manuel Aguilar|
|On the topmost part of the relief are three big clouds, apparently filled with water. Vertical lines below these undulating clouds transmit the image of a fine but heavy rain. Below the clouds, raindrops occur in abundance. Concentric-circle "chalchihuitl" glyphs larger in size than the raindrops are also present. |
From the opened mouth of the earth-monster niche (jaguar-serpent), large scrolls curl outward in diverse directions, as if describing a torrent of wind or the renovation of the vegetation (fertility). This motif could be inspired by a natural phenomenon that occurs at Chalcatzingo in the rainy season: thick patches of fog cling to the rock in early morning, and when the sun rises the fog slowly unfolds from the many crevices and gullies of the mountain. The triple lines of the jaw mark the gums of a feline, while the eye motif with its St. Andrew's "cross roads" (omaxalli, according to the Aztecs, or the wacah chan of the Maya) that was the concept of the five regions of the Universe, of which the most important point was the center. The St. Andrew's cross could also represent the dual deities of heaven and the underworld, day and night. The symbol would graphically express the crossing of the path of the sun in its daily journey with that of the Milky Way in the noctural sky. In three areas of the open jaws of the earth-monster are plants, previously interpreted as maize by Michael Coe (1965), identified by Angulo ( Grove, 1987) as bromeliads that grow and adhere to the fissures of the rocks at Chalcatzingo.
The personage, popularly called "El Rey" seated within the earth-monster's mouth has been identified as a diety of rain (Gay 1971) or the God of the Mountain (Tepeyollotecuhtli or Tepeyollotl), the heart of the mountain. According to Seller (1963) this deity was the jaguar god who inhabits the caves and is similar to Tlaloc in many of his attributes. He also controls the waters that come out of the caves, and he is surrounded by clouds, lightning and thunder. This god keeps the fire of lightning hidden behind the clouds and is a dual deity who produces water and fire at the same time.
The figure of "El Rey" sits upon a rectangular block which contains the horizontal S symbol, but also holds in his arms a "ceremonial bar" with the same symbol. That ceremonial bar could be the metaphorical substitute of human-jaguar baby, like the one that is carried by a human figure coming of a cave in the altar 5 of La Venta or the Sculptue of the Limas. If this is true we could be seeing a very old representation of the "birth of the Maize God" who is produced by the forces of the earth and rain. This S-shaped motif of the bar, could be also the precedent serpent-like bar carried by the Maya Rulers, representing the mediation between terrestrial and supernatural realms.
The tall and tubular form of this headdress is similar to the ones worn by Olmec personages in places like the Juxtlahuaca cave, stelae 2 and 3 and altars 3 and 5 at La Venta. El Rey wears a knee-length garment that shows three pendant-dots representing raindrops, a cape, anklets, an ear ornament and an elaborate headdress with two panaches. Within his headdress are two rows of three raindrop symbols each, three sets of concentric (chalchihuitl) and two sprigs. Because of the common association of the scroll as a symbol for sound, the horizontal S scroll may also represent sound in one direction and the echo in the opposite direction. The echo has an important association with the Lord of the Mountain as personified by "El Rey" . Caves and mountain cliffs are an appropriate place for echoes, and it is likely that this opposing scroll motif represents the chants, prayers, and supplications projected toward the sacred cliffs of Chalcatzingo to obtain rain from the "Heart of the Mountain".
The whole sequence of reliefs may in one aspect represent the collaboration of the clan groups, each one related to natural elements, in their petitions through prayers and rituals to bring the rain clouds from afar to the mountain of Chalcatzingo, in a ceremony associated with fertility. As a complement to the fertility rites, the sequence clearly shows the progressive growth of the clouds. The personage of "El Rey" clearly played the most important role in the scene depicted in the reliefs, perhaps as the Lord and Heart of the mountain that converted water from the air into the streams of water forming the gorges of Chalcatzingo.