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Knot-eye Jaguar I

[?]BAHLAM. Drawing and transcription after Martin and Grube (2008).


Maya ruler of Yaxchilan. Reigned >508-c. 518.

Father: Bird Jaguar II.

Brother: K'inich Tatbu Skull II.

Monument: Stela 27.

The nickname by which this ruler is known derives from his name glyph, which combines a jaguar head with a knotted textile passing through the eye of a trophy skull (Martin and Grube 2008:120, 231, Yaxchilan note 7).

Knot-eye Jaguar celebrated the 9.4.0.0.0 period ending of AD 514 by erecting Stela 27, the first monument of this type known from Yaxchilan (ibid.:120). Stela 27 is noteworthy for having been partially recarved at a later date, as the style of the bottom third is a crude match for the top (ibid.:120) (photo). The king is portrayed wearing an ornament on the back of his belt composed of a human head in a jaguar headdress; on top of the headdress is a bird (ibid.:120). Given that such belt ornaments at Yaxchilan are known to provide the name of the wearer's father, one may deduce that Knot-eye Jaguar was a son of Bird Jaguar II (ibid.:120).

Knot-eye Jaguar's military successes included captures from Bonampak and Piedras Negras (ibid.:120). In 508 he even captured a lord of Chak Tok Ich'aak II of Tikal (ibid.:37, 120). But the bellicose relationship with Piedras Negras that can be traced back at least as far as Moon Skull (who ruled before Knot-eye Jaguar's immediate predecessor Bird Jaguar II) finally culminated to Yaxchilan's distinct disadvantage; Piedras Negras Panel 12 shows Knot-eye Jaguar as a bound and kneeling captive of Piedras Negras Ruler C (ibid.:119-120, 141).

The date of the capture is not explicit, but the text implies that it happened in 518 (ibid.:121). Yet Stela 14 from 521 names a son of Bird Jaguar II, suggesting that Knot-eye Jaguar I, like Yich'aak Bahlam of Seibal and K'inich K'an Joy Chitam of Palenque, was released by his captors and permitted to resume the throne as their vassal (ibid.:63, 121, 171).

The foregoing is based on Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens by Simon Martin and Nikolai Grube (2008:37, 120-121, 141). The authors cite David Stuart (in 1986) for belt names; Linda Schele (personal communication 1991) for Stela 27; Mary Ellen Miller (1991) and Schele and Peter Mathews (1991) for Piedras Negras Panel 12; and David Stuart (2007s) for Panel 12 and the release of royal captives. The trophy skull component of the name glyph is discussed in Martin 2004.