Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Temple of the Divining God – Tulum by Nelson Sandgren

  • Title: Temple of the Divining God – Tulum
  • Artist: Nelson Sandgren
  • Medium: Lithograph
  • Size: 15"h x 20.5"w
  • Added to collection: 2014
  • Donor: The Bill Rhoades Collection, a gift in memory of Murna and Vay Rhoades
  • Campus: Rock Creek
  • Location: B2/2 S Print gallery

Tulum is the site of a pre-Columbian Mayan walled city in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. The ruins are situated on high cliffs along the east coast of the Yucatán. Tulum was one of the last cities built and inhabited by the Maya; it was at its height between the 13th and 15th centuries and managed to survive about 70 years after the Spanish invasion of Mexico. By the end of the 16th century, the site was abandoned. The building atop the stairs is the Temple of the Frescoes that was used as an observatory for tracking the movements of the sun. Niched figurines of the Maya "diving god" decorate the facade of the temple.

In this dramatic image of the Mayan ruins,  Nelson Sandgren evokes the romantic tradition of meditations on the earthly and the spiritual realms suggestive of Constable's Stonehenge or Van Ruysdael's Jewish Cemetery.