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Lady Ik' Skull

IX-UH CHAN-na-?. Drawing and transcription after Martin and Grube (2008).


Maya queen of Yaxchilan, a royal ix ajaw of Calakmul, also known as Lady Evening Star.

Itzamnaaj Bahlam III of Yaxchilan dedicated buildings to two of his wives, Lady K'abal Xook and Lady Sak Biyaan, but his inscriptions never mention a third wife, Lady Ik' Skull, a royal lady of Calakmul (Martin and Grube 2008:126). Instead it was her son, Bird Jaguar IV, who acceded as king of Yaxchilan ten years after Itzamnaaj Bahlam's death and brought Lady Ik' Skull to the attention of history (ibid.:129).

During his father's lifetime, Bird Jaguar was probably only a very junior candidate for the succession (ibid.:128). The prominence accorded to Lady K'abal Xook suggests that a son of hers was the heir apparent (ibid.:127). But Itzamnaaj Bahlam lived so long that he may have survived more than one such prince; however that may be, at least one lord seems to have successfully asserted a claim superior to that of Bird Jaguar, reigning as Yopaat Bahlam II during some or all of the ten years of Yaxchilan's "interregnum" (ibid.:127). But Bird Jaguar seems to have blotted this predecessor from history, in some cases apparently recarving Yopaat Bahlam's monuments (ibid.:129-130). Whether this was owing to a disputed succession or Yopaat Bahlam's apostasy in pledging subordination to Piedras Negras is not known (ibid.:127, 149).

What is clear is that, after his coronation, Bird Jaguar went to extraordinary lengths to demonstrate his own legitimacy (ibid.:128). In the process he found it advantageous to build up the importance of his mother after the anonymity in which she had languished during the lifetime of Itzamnaaj Bahlam (ibid.:126, 129). Bird Jaguar commissioned a number of sculptures showing his mother together with Itzamnaaj Bahlam (ibid.:129). He also depicted himself together with his mother and his wife, Lady Great Skull, conducting an autosacrificial rite in order to conjure up visions of K'awiil-spouting serpents and centipedes (ibid.:129). And his mother alone was portrayed on Stela 35 letting blood in the manner of Lady K'abal Xook as depicted on the lintels of Temple 23 (ibid.:125, 129).

Lady Ik' Skull died in AD 751, not long before her son's accession (ibid.:129).

The foregoing is based on Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens by Simon Martin and Nikolai Grube (2008:126-127, 129).