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K'inich Ahkal Mo' Nahb III

K'INICH-AHK-AL MO'[NA:B], "Radiant Turtle Macaw Lake?" Drawing, transcription and translation after Martin and Grube (2008).


Maya ruler of Palenque; also known as Chaacal III and Akul Anab III. Reigned AD 721-736>.

Born 9.12.6.5.8 3 Lamat 6 Sak (September 13, 678).

Acceded: 9.14.10.4.2 9 Ik' 5 K'ayab (December 30, 721).

Wife: Lady Men Nik.

Father: Tiwol Chan Mat.

Mother: Lady Kinuw.

Brother: K'inich Janaab Pakal II?

Son: K'inich K'uk' Bahlam II.

Monuments: Temple 18 texts, Temple 19 bench and texts, Temple 21 texts; Tablets of the Orator and Scribe; Bundle Panel; House E Painted text?

Whereas the succession had passed from brother to brother (as distinct from the more customary father to son) in the case of K'inich Kan Bahlam II and K'inich K'an Joy Chitam II, it was even less direct in the case of the latter and K'inich Ahkal Mo' Nahb III (Martin and Grube 2008:171-172). In all probability, however, K'inich Ahkal Mo' Nahb achieved his legitimacy by virtue of being the son of K'inich K'an Joy Chitam's younger brother (ibid.:172). K'inich Ahkal Mo' Nahb's father, Tiwol Chan Mat is associated with Lady Tz'akbu Ajaw, the wife of K'inich Janaab Pakal the Great, in the stucco text from Temple 18, and he was probably her son (ibid.:172). His burial in 680 was supervised by Pakal himself, suggesting that the great Palenque king was his father (Martin and Grube 2000:172). Thus K'inich Ahkal Mo' Nahb was a grandson of Pakal and the nephew of his two predecessors as ruler, K'inich Kan Bahlam and K'inich K'an Joy Chitam (Martin and Grube 2008:172).

Compelling evidence for this comes from a stucco scene with glyphs that was formerly displayed on the back wall of Temple 18 (ibid.:172). The three brothers—K'inich Kan Bahlam, K'inich K'an Joy Chitam and Tiwol Chan Mat—stand side by side. Kan Bahlam and K'an Joy Chitam are identifiable by their childhood names, while all three are labeled ch'ok "prince" (ibid.:172). The figure seated before them as the focus of the scene is almost certainly their father, K'inich Janaab Pakal, for a caption text conveys words that are being spoken to him: "You are satisfied, you put them in order" (ibid.:172). In other words, Pakal is presiding over a ceremony in which he has established the order of succession from brother to brother (ibid.:172).

Temple 18 is K'inich Ahkal Mo' Nahb's building, and this tableau—dated to 679—is a statement of his right to rule as the son of one of the chosen heirs (ibid.:172). Ahkal Mo' Nahb was one year old at the time of the ceremony; his father would die the following year (ibid.:172).

K'inich Ahkal Mo' Nahb's reign is significant for the prominence he accords to secondary figures, implying that he relied on their support (ibid.:173). An important captive taken by the miltary leader Chak Suutz' was featured on two prominently displayed relief sculptures known today as the Tablet of the Scribe and the Tablet of the Orator (ibid.:172-173). (The westward expansion of Palenque's sphere undertaken by K'inich Kan Bahlam—and perhaps Pakal before him—clearly continued in that the captive in question was a sajal of Yo'nal Ahk II of Piedras Negras [ibid.:162-163, 170, 172]. The date of the capture may be 725 [ibid.:172].)

Other subordinate figures are depicted helping Ahkal Mo' Nahb to move a large textile-covered bundle on the eponymous Bundle Panel of 731 (Martin and Grube 2000:173). And it is to a yajaw k'ahk' of Ahkal Mo' Nahb that we owe the splendors of Temple 19; this "Lord of Fire" commissioned the building with its magnificent limestone tablet on a central pier (depicting Ahkal Mo' Nahb together with his yajaw k'ahk') as well as the sculptured platform gracing its northeast corner (Martin and Grube 2008:173). The latter features a text of over two hundred glyphs, much of it recounting the mythological beginnings of Palenque, and a figural reenactment of this supernatural foundation in which K'inich Ahkal Mo' Nahb impersonates the Palenque patron deity GI while another grandson of Pakal named Janaab Ajaw portrays God D in the act of overseeing his accession (Martin and Grube 2000:173, 2008:173). This is K'inich Ahkal Mo' Nahb's accession in the current era as well, and it is witnessed by five nobles of Palenque—another example of prominence accorded to secondary figures (Martin and Grube 2008:173).

K'inich Ahkal Mo' Nahb's reign also saw the construction of Temples 18, 18a and 21 in the southern extension of the Cross Group (ibid.:173). Hieroglyphic door jambs installed in Temple 18 tie his accession to that of the mythological Muwaan Mat in 3121 BC; Temple 18 contained three tombs of an earlier era, two of which have yielded a wealth of jade objects (Martin and Grube 2000:173).

The foregoing is based on Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens by Simon Martin and Nikolai Grube (2000:172-173, 2008:171-173). Their sources include Karen Bassie-Sweet (1991) and William Ringle (1996) for Tiwol Chan Mat as a third son of Pakal; Ringle (1996) and David Stuart (2005) for the Temple 18 stucco tableau; Stuart (2005) for "you are satisfied, you put them in order"; Linda Schele (1991b) for Chak Suutz'; Stanley Guenter and Marc Zender (1999) for independent identification of the captive sajal from Piedras Negras; Alfonso Morales (1999) and David Stuart (2005) for the carved platform from Temple 19.


Note 1: This king acceded in AD 721 (December 30) in the Julian calendar but 722 (January 3) in the Gregorian.

Note 2: K'inich Ahkal Mo' Nahb's father was formerly nicknamed "Batz" because of the long-lipped glyph that spells his name. On the stone pier tablet from Temple XIX, however, the glyph is suffixed by la, which, together with a ti-wo phonetic substitution on the Tablet of the Slaves, suggests Tiwool. The complete name is given on the Tablet of Slaves as ti-wo-CHAN-na ma-MAT, for Tiwool Chan Mat.

Note 3: That K'inich K'an Joy Chitam, like his brother before him, had failed to produce a male heir might seem the simplest way to account for the deviation from the normal custom of father-to-son succession, but it is conceivable that it was preferred in this case that the rulership pass from brother to brother (Simon Martin, personal communication 2002). As David Stuart pointed out in a presentation at the 2002 Maya Meetings at Texas (Stuart 2002), the stucco relief on the back wall of Temple 18 once depicted standing figures labeled by titles or personal names as the future rulers K'inich Kan Bahlam II and K'inich K'an Joy Chitam II, together with a third figure identifiable as K'inich Ahkal Mo' Nahb's father, Tiwol Chan Mat. Seated before them is K'inich Janaab Pakal I, and adjacent to Pakal are glyphs which address him in second-person speech, "You are satisfied with putting them in order." The inference is that Pakal had decreed how the succession would pass, not just after he himself had died and his eldest son succeeded him, but beyond. Whether or not this arrangement was dictated by the failure of K'inich Kan Bahlam and K'inich K'an Joy Chitam to produce male heirs is impossible to say. But it is noteworthy that the scene is dated to just after the birth of K'inich Ahkal Mo' Nahb (Stuart 2002). At the very least, the figural representation and the text together may be taken as further evidence that K'inich Ahkal Mo' Nahb's father, like K'inich Kan Bahlam and K'inich K'an Joy Chitam, was a son of Pakal.

Note 4: K'inich Ahkal Mo' Nahb's reign is significant for the prominence he accords to secondary figures. This was formerly seen as a consequence of the capture of his predecessor by Tonina, with a consequent interregnum during which support for the maintenance of royal continuity would have been essential. But the probability that K'inich K'an Joy Chitam was neither sacrificed nor held in prolonged captivity by Tonina (see Longer Live the King: The Questionable Demise of K'inich K'an Joy Chitam of Palenque by David Stuart) demands some other explanation. Perhaps there were other claimants to the throne despite K'inich Janaab Pakal's putative decree that the succession pass from brother to brother and then to his grandson K'inich Ahkal Mo' Nahb.


For a further discussion of this ruler at Mesoweb see The Rulers of Palenque.