censor

A censor from Tikal Structure 5D-32. It had originally been placed within a bench in the building. Sometime, perhaps as early as the ninth century AD, the bench was opened up and fragments of the censor were strewn about the room. Later again the masonry vault collapsed, further smashing the censor pieces but protecting them under a layer of debris.

Structure 5D 32 was placed against the front of the North Acropolis facing south directly onto the Great Plaza. Its substructure contains Burial 195, the tomb of the 22nd Tikal ruler, whose name has not yet been deciphered phonetically. He is refered to as "Animal Skull", after the central image of his name glyph. He ruled during the "hiatus", a period of 130 years when Tikal had lost is preeminent position of Central Peten power. Although this was a low period for Tikal, Burial 195 demonstrates that artisans of the highest level were still producing elite items.

Balls of copal incense would have been placed in the lower part of the censor on hot coals. The smoke would billow out from various openings. Shamanic specialists who probably were members of Tikal's elite class, would see the figures of natural powers, and deceased ancestors in the swerling smoke. The clouds riding from Structure 5D-32, and the others in front of and on the North Acropolis, would be seen as the evidence that the powers of nature were really present to receive offerings and supplications.

 

photo:HSL The ancient looters were not interested in this type of censor because the elite no longer filled the same role as intermediaries with natural powers. They were probably after jade and knew where to look.

Excavatione ancient looters were not interested in this type of censor because the elite no longer filled the same role as intermediaries w 

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ith natural powers.