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Bird Jaguar III

AJ-6-TU:N-ni ya-YAXU:N?-BAHLAM-ma. Drawing and transcription after Martin and Grube (2008).

Maya ruler of Yaxchilan; also known as 6-Tun Bird Jaguar, Bird Jaguar II and Yaxun Bahlam III. Reigned 629-669>.

Dynastic title: Fifteenth in the line.

Acceded: 9 Ben 16 Yax (September 15, 629).

Father: K'inich Tatbu Skull III.

Wife: Lady Pakal.

Son: Itzamnaaj Bahlam III.

Monuments: Stelae 3/33 and 6; Throne 2 (all by Bird Jaguar IV).

As belt ornaments at Yaxchilan are known to provide the name of the wearer's father, we may deduce from two depictions of Bird Jaguar III that his father bore the K'inich Tatbu Skull name that recurs at Yaxchilan (Martin and Grube 2008:122). This character may have been the preceeding ruler who erected Stela 2 to mark the period ending of AD 613 (ibid.:121).

Bird Jaguar's wife, Lady Pakal, is said to have lived into her sixth k'atun, meaning that she was at least ninety-eight when she died in 705; some sixty years earlier she had produced Bird Jaguar's heir, the future Itzamnaaj Bahlam III (ibid.:122).

Bird Jaguar III carries the names or titles aj waktuun ("He of Six Stone") and "Master of Chakjal Te'" (this last being the most noteworthy of his captives); his dynastic title is "Fifteenth" in the line of the dynasty founder Yopaat Bahlam (ibid.:122).

In 646 or 647 Bird Jagar captured a lord from the Hix Witz polity, the capital of which was located at Zapote Bobal at this time (ibid.:122).

There are no contemporaneous monuments of Bird Jaguar III; we know of the Hix Witz captive because the next ruler Itzamnaaj Bahlam III chose to mention it in connection with a triumph of his own over Hix Witz (ibid.:122, 124). Bird Jaguar III's grandson, Bird Jaguar IV, even created monuments after the fact for his predecessor as if they were his grandfather's own; this suggests an effort to manufacture a more palatable version of Yaxchilan's history during the time of Bird Jaguar III (ibid.:129).

It may well be that Yaxchilan languished under the domination of the larger Piedras Negras during this era. Piedras Negras Panel 2 can be taken to assert wide-ranging dominion over the upper Usumacinta, including Yaxchilan, by Piedras Negras Ruler 2 (ibid.:144). And Mary Miller has suggested that the absence of contemporaneous monuments at Yaxchilan bespeaks a protracted period of subjugation to the comparatively stable and architecturally ambitious Piedras Negras (ibid.:123).

Even before the time of Bird Jaguar III, there was an apparent hiatus in monument construction starting in 537 and interrupted only by Stela 2 in 613 (ibid.:121). And Bird Jaguar's son and successor Itzamnaaj Bahlam III seems not to have commenced his prodigious building program in earnest until 723, some forty-two years after his accession (ibid.:123).

An alternative, or perhaps additional, explanation for Yaxchilan's protracted quietus (and Bird Jaguar IV's effort to remedy it after the fact) features an expansion of either or both of Palenque and Tonina into the Usumacinta zone around Yaxchilan; during the early reign of Itzamnaaj Bahlam III, K'inich Kan Bahlam II of Palenque is known to have acted as overlord to the sites of Anaite (Anaay Te') and La Mar, while K'inich Baaknal Chaak of Tonina seems to have vied for control of the same region (ibid.:170, 182, 183).

The foregoing is based on Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens by Simon Martin and Nikolai Grube (2008:122-124, 129, 144, 170, 182, 183). Their sources include Peter Mathews (1997[1985]) for Bird Jaguar III's rule of at least forty years; David Stuart (personal communication 1998) and Alejandro Tovalín Ahumada, Peter Mathews, Armando Anaya Hernández and Adolpho Velázquez de León (1998) for Itzamnaaj Bahlam, rather than Bird Jaguar III, as "Fifteenth in the line"; and Mary Miller (1991) for Yaxchilan's subjugation to Piedras Negras.