“K” is for Kukulcan

As the deadline for Alphabet Soup looms in the not so distant future I decided it was time to get busy; printmaking and mythology assignments be damned.

This addition to the Primer of New Spain is for Kukulcan, the Yucatec  term for quetzal-serpent (aka Quetzalcoatl).

Early accounts (pre-Aztec) of the priestly king describe a  divine sovereign so gentle of nature that when tempted by demons to engage in ritual human sacrifice he refuses. The Codex Chimpalopoca informs the reader :

“he would never agree [to human sacrifice] because he loved his vassals the Toltecs, and his sacrifice was always of snails, birds, and butterflies”.

Poor snails, birds and butterflies.

This enlightened monarch evidently introduced his people to the benefits of maize-hence the funny little crown.

He is also understood to be of great beauty, rendered the color of jade, beloved above gold-hence his pretty green body.

“K” is for Kukulcan
watercolor on paper
11by 18 inches

The funny little crown I mentioned is based upon a stucco portrait of the Great King Pacal of Palanque.

One of my older books describes this gorgeous bust as perhaps representing a priest of Kukulcan, the Quetzalcoatl of the Mayas. That has since been disproven but I thought the inspiration for my priestly king appropriate.

Stucco Portrait, King Pakal, Seventh Century A.D., Palenque

I love this portrait bust, I believe it rivals that OTHER bust of a certain lovely Egyptian queen. This portrait of Pakal captures the grace and beauty of Mayan art that just makes me loopy.

Another inspiration, another source of loopy-ness is the Pergamon Altar ; since boyhood the unabashedly sexy snake-legged giants have fascinated ( and titillated ) me.

They proved useful models for my winged- serpent- priestly lord, Bestower of Maize .

detail of Pergamon Altar

That is it for this evening, I have readings to finish, tackling the Orpheus and Eurydice tradition, next on to the Creation of Man.

Exciting stuff.

I’m almost finished of my first etching, it has been in three parts,  I will submit for later review. It is crude, but the process is fascinating.

Gotta love a good acid bath!

until next time,

take care,


Author: babylonbaroque

I am a painter and printmaker working towards creating a body of work that reflects my own developing aesthetic. New work ,first link. The second link is an on-line portfolio.

8 thoughts on ““K” is for Kukulcan”

  1. You are a wonder! I like this one, there’s a lightness about him, and his cheeky headdress made me smile. That Mayan bust is indeed remarkable, with a grace and elegance that surprises me.

    Look forward to the results of the etching.

    1. Thank you, he is lighter than most, I liked where he was going so I restrained myself.
      I will post the etching(s) soon, it’s a bit tough fro meI have to think backwards regarding values; I can barely think forward 🙂

  2. your alphabet is wondrous, you really should build a book at the end. i love the gentle green, how you portrayed the wings, and those snaky legs! it’s a fantastic rendering of parts and whole–and i didn’t know that about the sacrifices (what a fabulous way to put it: demon temptations to sacrifice–it makes so much more sense), and i agree with you about the poor snails, birds, and butterflies…
    and i love that bust–what a regal bearing!
    can’t wait to see the etching!!

    1. Hello, yes I too like the notion of demonic temptation, but how the hell do you sacrifice snails? Just logistically, seems challenging!

  3. I love this one! And who would have thought it would be possible for a green person to look so lovely? Well done.

    And I too am looking forward to seeing the etching. I am positive that etching will be a good medium for you and it’ll be wonderful to see what you’ve come up with!

    1. Hello,
      Yes etching is making me very happy, we have been focusing on mezzotints today. They are of course beautiful but I love the deliberate quality of hard line etching. Eager to see how I progress and how my tastes change through the process. Will keep you posted!

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