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Siyaj K'ahk'

SIY(AJ)-K'AHK', "Fire-Born". Drawing, transcription and translation after Martin and Grube (2000, in press).


Also spelled Siyaj K'ak'. Also known as Smoking Frog and K'ak' Sih. K'aloomte' (a word with the apparent sense of "warlord") from Teotihuacan who installed Yax Nuun Ayiin I as king of Tikal in AD 379.

In describing the Teotihuacan entrada into the Maya lowlands in AD 378, Simon Martin and Nikolai Grube (2000:29) observe that Siyaj K'ahk' is first mentioned in an inscription at El Peru, about fifty miles west of Tikal. They deduce that the warlord from Central Mexico traveled towards Tikal via the San Pedro Martir River. (The El Peru reference was first noted by David Stuart [2000], who adverted to the "west to east" movement.)

Stela 31 states the Siyaj K'ahk' "arrived" at Tikal, a verb used in other inscriptions to describe the setting up of dynasties (Martin and Grube 2000:29). On the very day of the arrival, Chak Tok Ich'aak, the king of Tikal, is said to have "entered the water", or died (ibid.:29). And the next king of Tikal, Yax Nuun Ayiin, was set on the throne under the auspices of Siyaj K'ahk' (ibid.:32). As David Stuart (2000:479) sums up the evidence with appropriate circumspection,

...I would interpret this as fairly clear evidence that the arrival was more than a simple visitation by outsiders. It may well have been accompanied by violence and the execution of the reigning Tikal lord, but it should be cautioned that the language of these texts is seldom so explicit.

Siyaj K'ahk' is mentioned at Uaxactun (AD 378 and 396), Bejucal (c. 381), and probably Río Azul (393) in inscriptions that state or imply his overlordship over local rulers (Martin 2003:12). Although the full context is uncertain, his name, coupled with an ajaw title, can be seen in one of Alfred Maudslay's photographs from the Palace at Palenque (Maudslay 1889-1902:pl. 34, cited in Martin 2003:note 17).

At Mesoweb see The Fate of Jaguar Paw and an excerpt from David Stuart's The Arrival of Strangers (Stuart 2000).