The word Chenes is used to describe one of the approximately five different kinds of ancient Maya architecture that archaeologists have classified. Chenes is a lowland Maya kind of architecture that can be found in sites located in the southern area of the Yucatan Peninsula, in the Chenes and Río Bec regions, north of the central lowlands. Examples of Chenes style architecture include such places as Dzibilnocac, Hochob, Edzná, Chicanná and part of Uxmal's Pyramid of the Magician.
Chenes architecture occurred during the Classic period. According to Exploring the Life, Myth, and Art of the Maya, the style came about in the Late Classic period, a sub-section of the Classic period. Historical Dictionary of Mesoamerica states the style was used in both Late Classic and Terminal Classic times (the Terminal Classic period being the sub-section of the Classic period that came after the Late Classic). Archaeology of Ancient Mexico and Central America: An Encyclopedia states that the Chenes style started around the beginning of the 600s AD (around the beginning of the Late Classic) and continued into the beginning of the 800s AD (around the beginning of the Terminal Classic). The Chenes architectural style was an influence in certain kinds of Puuc architecture and is also related to Río Bec architecture.
Features: What Chenes Structures Look Like
Chenes makes use of carved mosaic facades on both the upper and lower facades of the structure. The mosaic decorations took the form of spirals as well as distorted beings. Chenes style facades are commonly one story high.
Another major feature of Chenes architecture is the practice of framing of doors with monster masks -- the actual doorway making the "mouth". The mask possibly represented a sky deity or a mountain deity -- sometimes identified as Chac (God B), the rain god. It is understood that the mask doorway indicated an entrance to the spiritual world.
Foundations of Chenes buildings are also of note. Unlike other styles, Chenes style buildings have shorter foundations.
Features: What They Don't Look Like
The Chenes style also is known for what it doesn't incorporate. It doesn't use columns, and glyphic inscriptions (including stelae) are not often used.
Southwest Missouri State University: Theme #17 Maya Art and Architecture
"A Dictionary of Archaeology"; Ian Shaw, Robert Jameson; 2002
"Prehistoric Mesoamerica"; Richard E. W. Adams; 2005
"Exploring the Life, Myth, and Art of the Maya"; Timothy Laughton; 2011
"Pre-Columbian America: Empires of the New World"; Kathleen Kuiper; 2010
"The Ancient Maya"; Robert J. Sharer, Loa. P Traxler; 2005
"Handbook to Life in the Ancient Maya World"; Lynn V. Foster; 2005
Southwest Missouri State University: Maya Architectural Styles
"Historical Dictionary of Mesoamerica"; Walter R. T. Witschey, Clifford T. Brown; 2011
"Archaeology of Ancient Mexico and Central America: An Encyclopedia"; Susan Toby Evans, David L. Webster; 2013