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K'inich Kan Bahlam II

K'INICH KAN[BAHLAM]-ma, "Radiant Snake Jaguar". Drawing, transcription and translation after Martin and Grube (2008).


Maya ruler of Palenque; also known as Chan Bahlum II. Reigned AD 684-702.

Dynastic title: Tenth in the line.

Born: 9.10.2.6.6 2 Kimi 19 Sotz' (May 20, 635).

Acceded: 9.12.11.12.10 8 Ok 3 K'ayab (January 7, 684).

Died: 9.13.10.1.5 6 Chikchan 3 Pop (February 16, 702).

Father: K'inich Janaab Pakal I.

Mother: Lady Tz'akbu Ajaw.

Brothers: K'inich K'an Joy Chitam II, Batz Chan Mat?

Monuments: Tablets and Alfardas of the Temples of the Cross, Sun and Foliated Cross; tablets and facade of the Temple of the Inscriptions; Temple 17 Panel; Death's Head; Jonuta Panel; Temple of the Cross Stela.

Because his father lived so long and built such an impressive monument to himself (the Temple of the Inscriptions and its tomb), K'inich Kan Bahlam did not accede until he was forty-eight years old and had a hard act to follow architecturally — but he more than rose to the challenge (Martin and Grube 2008:168). That he first completed his father's funerary temple is clear from the fact that his accession is referred to at the end of the lengthy text of its three hieroglyphic tablets (ibid.:168). He also commissioned the sculptures on the building's piers with stucco figures holding in their arms the infant manifestation of the god K'awiil (Martin and Grube 2000:168). An associated text, now mostly destroyed, names Kan Bahlam as the "tenth in the line," a dynastic count that works only if Lady Yohl Ik'nal and Muwaan Mat are omitted (Simon Martin, personal communication 2000; Martin and Grube 2008:168).

The Temples of the Cross, Foliated Cross and Sun were dedicated together in AD 692 (Martin and Grube 2008:169). Each is consecrated to a different god of the Palenque Triad, and each has a sculptured tablet bearing a central icon after which the given building has been named: a cross (actually a "world tree"), a "foliated" cross, and the jaguar god of the night sun (ibid.:169). On either side of these tablets are images of Kan Bahlam, a taller one portraying him as an adult and a shorter as a youth (ibid.:169). The glyphic texts connect the dynastic line begun by Kan Bahlam's father with the foundation of Palenque in deep mythological time, providing legitimation for the patriline (ibid.:169). Reference is also made to a more recent event associated with a planetary conjunction in 690 (a date which is also recorded on a jade with Kan Bahlam's portrait that was thrown into the Sacred Cenote at Chichen Itza) (ibid.:169).

Kan Bahlam marked the 9.13.0.0.0 k'atun ending of 692 with Palenque's solitary figural stela (ibid.:169). In the military and political realms he substantially expanded Palenque's sphere of influence. He re-installed the king of Moral-Reforma who had acceded under Kaan supervision in his father’s time, suggesting a widespread authority over the Tabasco plain. Rulers of La Mar and Anaite on the Usumacinta in the close vicinity of Piedras Negras and Yaxchilan took him as their overlord (ibid.:170, 181-182). This is deduced from the depiction of lords of those two sites, said to be the vassals of Palenque, as captives at Tonina (ibid.:170, 181-182). That Palenque warred with Tonina itself is clear from texts from Temple 17 and the Temple of the Sun, which reference a 687 attack on Tonina after which Ruler 2 of that site is never heard from again (ibid.:170).

Kan Bahlam was buried on the very day of his death in 702 (ibid.:170). There is every reason to believe that he was interred in the Group of the Cross, but his tomb has never been found (ibid.:170).

Except as noted, the foregoing is based on Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens by Simon Martin and Nikolai Grube (2000:168, 2008:123, 168-170, 181-182). Their sources include Werner Nahm (personal communication) for the "tenth in the line" dynastic count; Karen Bassie-Sweet (1991) and Floyd Lounsbury for the identity of the Cross Group figures; Dieter Dütting (1982) for the astronomical conjuntion; Tatiana Proskouriakoff (1974) for the Sacred Cenote jade; Stephen Houston (personal communication 1996) for the burial on the same day as death; and Peter Mathews (personal communication 2002) for the Temple of the Sun reference to the 687 attack on Tonina.


For a further discussion at Mesoweb see the chapter on K'inich Kan Bahlam II in The Rulers of Palenque.