|Note: If you arrived at this page via Mesoweb Search, use your browser's Find feature to locate the text of interest, then click the link to go to the illustrated page. Or click here to go to the beginning of the article.|
Go to page: K'UK' B'AHLAM I:
K'uk' B'ahlam founded the Palenque dynasty on March 11, 431 of the current era. At this time in Europe, the fall of the Roman Empire was ushering in the Middle Ages. K'uk' B'ahlam's name glyph, as depicted above from the Temple of the Foliated Cross, consists of a quetzal bird - k'uk' in Mayan - with a jaguar ear, the jaguar being b'ahlam in the particular Mayan language of the Palenque inscriptions. Thus we are secure in translating his name as "Quetzal Jaguar".
Go to page: K'uk' B'ahlam has also been called Quetzal and Kuk. He was previously referred to as Bahlum-Kuk because b'ahlum means jaguar in modern Ch'ol, the Mayan language which is spoken in Palenque. The two parts of the name Bahlum-Kuk were "reversed" by Linda Schele and Peter Mathews (1993) based on a spelling employed by a later ruler of Palenque, K'uk' B'ahlam II, who took the founder's name. As it appears above in the Tablet of the 96 Glyphs, we see the phonetic complement ma appearing as three dots beneath the main sign of the name of K'uk' B'ahlam II. A phonetic complement at the end of a word signals the pronunciation of the final consonant - in this case the m sound at the end of b'ahlam. That's why Schele and Mathews suggested that B'ahlam and not K'uk' is the final part of the hieroglyphic symbol that combines them.
Go to page: There has been considerable debate about the dates of K'uk' B'ahlam, owing to an apparent scribal error in the calculation of the Distance Number between his birth and his accession to rulership as recorded on the Temple of the Cross Tablet. The great Mayanist Floyd Lounsbury even felt that K'uk' B'ahlam should be associated with the time of the Olmec - an era so distant from the actual founding of the Palenque dynasty as to be quasi-mythological. Based on David Stuart's work with the dynasty of Copan, Linda Schele and Peter Mathews (1993) realized the importance of dynastic founders to the Maya. Since K'uk' B'ahlam is properly considered to be the founder of the Palenque dynasty, his dates should be immediately preceding those of the next rulers, whose dates are less controversial. As a historical personage, K'uk' B'ahlam has been assigned a birthdate in historical time: March 31, 397 (in the Maya calendar 126.96.36.199.6 5 Kimi 14 K'ayab').
Go to page: The passage above (from the Temple of the Cross Tablet) records the date of K'uk' B'ahlam's birth - 5 Kimi 14 K'ayab' - in the first two glyph blocks. (A bar representing the number five is to the left of the ritual calendar sign Kimi in the first glyph block, while two bars and four dots - each bar counting five and each dot counting one - are to the left of the solar month sign K'ayab' in the second.) At P5 is the verb for "birth", the glyph for which was referred to as the "upended frog" when it was first identified. (It is possible that it actually depicts an iguana. The "upended frog" portion is the top left half of the glyph block; the right half and the bottom together form a verbal suffix.) At Q5 is K'uk' B'ahlam's name.
Go to page: The text continues with a Distance Number at P6-Q6 that counts forward from the time of K'uk' B'ahlam's birth to his accession, or coronation as ruler. Distance Numbers count how many days, months, years, k'atuns, and sometimes even greater intervals of time are to be added to or subtracted from a given date to arrive at a different date. This particular Distance Number records fourteen days (four dots and two bars), five months (the bar lying horizontally on top of the sign for "month"), two years (the left portion of the next glyph block), and one k'atun (a k'atun being a twenty year period). Thus a total of twenty-two years and 114 days are added to K'uk' B'ahlam's birth (indicated by the "upended frog" at P7) to arrive at the date of his accession. The verb for accession (at Q7) is a "flat hand" holding out two glyphic symbols, the one on the left being the color "white" and the one on the right representing the headband of rulership. "White" is sak in Mayan, and the headband is huun. Sak Huun is the name of the headband. It is also a name of the Jester God, a Maya deity associated with rulership. At P8 is a glyph reading tu 'ub'aah that has been interpreted to mean either that the headband was held for the king (or tied on his head), or that he held (or tied) it himself. At Q8 is the ritual calendar date of the accession, 1 K'an, and at P9 is the solar date 2 K'ayab'. The passage ends with a glyph at Q9 identifying K'uk' B'ahlam as a "Holy Cloud-Center Lord".
Go to page: As distinct from the other rulers of his dynasty, K'uk' B'ahlam does not bear one of the Palenque "emblem glyph" variants, such as the bone glyph signifying the kingdom's name, B'aak or "Bone". (It is possible that the name of the kingdom was B'aakal, a variant of the word for bone that might have the significance of "Boney" or "Bone Place"; see "Palenque Emblem Glyphs".) Instead he has the glyph (bottom left) reading Toktan Ajaw, "Cloud-Center Lord". The complete emblem glyph form, K'uhul Toktan Ajaw, "Divine Cloud-Center Lord", also appears with the name of K'uk' B'ahlam.
Go to page: At first glance, neither of these glyphs can be read syllabically as to-ko-TAN to give Toktan. On the left, reading the component signs of the glyph block in the normal order, we have ko-to-TAN, but Maya scribes are known to have been playful with the order in which they arranged the glyphs. On the right, we appear to have to-TAN. (The entire left side of the glyph block is the logograph K'UH, "god", which in this context is properly construed in its adjectival form k'uhul, "godly, holy, divine". The two balls on top, together representing the word ajaw, "lord", are read last.)
Go to page: But in an inscription from the Temple of the Sun recording that an event involving a later ruler, K'an Joy Chitam I, happened at Toktan, we find (at P5) the spelling to-ko-TAN-na. (At P2-Q2 is the date 12 Ajaw 8 Keh. P3 depicts a hand holding a mirror, which reads "he was held", referring to K'an Joy Chitam, whose name appears at P4. The sense is that K'an Joy Chitam was held in an office or featured in a ceremony, the sign for which appears as the second half of Q3 [Marc Zender, personal communication, 2000]. Q4 reads "it happened at". And P5 is Toktan, with to over ko on the left, and TAN over the phonetic complement -na on the right.)
Go to page: It seems, then, that what we have above might be an "underspelling", where to is written in the place of tok and a literate Maya would have known to supply the implicit consonant -k. This would be transcribed to-(ko). Such underspellings are common in the Maya texts, and this very word is frequently underspelled in the name of the Tikal ruler Chaak Tok Ich'aak (Grube and Martin 1998). Another possibility is that the sign which elsewhere stands for the syllable to is logographic TOK in this context. Whether transcribed to-(ko)-TAN or TOK-TAN, the word formed is Toktan.
Go to page: It is also noteworthy that the wife of Pakal the Great is referred to as being a Toktan noble. On the left above is the name glyph for Pakal's wife, Lady Tz'akb'u Ajaw, from D16 of the Palace Tablet. On the right is the partially eroded glyph for Toktan Winik, "Cloud Center Person" (D17). The left half of the glyph block is to over ko over TAN. The right half is WINIK, over the phonetic complement -ki.
Go to page: This is a stucco portrait of K'uk B'ahlam I, the dynastic founder, on Pier B of the Temple of the Inscriptions. He can be identified by the quetzal bird and jaguar muzzle in his headdress. "The figure wears a short jaguar pelt skirt divided at the front in a curve across the hips. The jaguar spots are indicated by deep oval cuts which are crosshatched. The skirt is bordered with horizontally laid feathers finished off with vertically hanging feathers of equal length. The combination of fragile bird feathers and tough leather on the same garment is notable. ...Very little of the beaded cape worn by this figure remains, but enough survives to indicate that it was shorter than usual and was made of small round beads. The figure also wore a necklace of large round beads. ... The flamboyant blue feather headdress completes the figure's scant attire (Greene Robertson 1983)."
Go to page: In his right arm K'uk B'ahlam holds a baby K'awiil, recognizeable for the fact that one leg is a serpent. In the other hand, K'uk' B'ahlam holds the serpent's head. As Merle Greene Robertson observes, "The foot of the 'child' has six toes... This we believe is a portrait of Chan-Bahlum [Kan B'ahlam II], the king of Palenque who succeded his father, Pacal the Great. Apparently it was he who completed the Temple of the Inscriptions, notably the piers, after the death and interment of his father. ... The serpent on Pier B is the most completely intact serpent of the inscriptions Piers. The wide-open jaws are outlined with scales and are crosshatched on the underside of the lower jaw and under the eye. The upper jaw terminates in a series of undulating scrolls and volutes. All the characteristic features of the Maya serpent are shown, the head, body, belly markings, back markings, nose, nose scroll, incisor teeth, molar tooth, jaw, eye, supraorbital plate, earplug, ear ornament, curled fang, tongue, lower jaw and beard (Greene Robertson 1983)."
Go to page: CASPER: For the resemblance to the "friendly ghost," and because his real name could not be read, the second ruler of Palenque was given the nickname "Casper" by Floyd Lounsbury at the First Palenque Round Table. There is still controversy about the reading, so the undignified nickname remains. In his catalog of Maya hieroglyphics, Eric Thompson called this main sign "Xipe", for its resemblance to the flayed human skin associated with the Aztec deity Xipe Totec. Alfonso Morales Cleveland and Merle Greene Robertson have suggested a resemblance to a manatee. The prefix to the left of the main sign is clearly ch'a, but the main sign itself will never be read until a phonetic substitution is found (where the logogram is spelled syllabically). Casper has also been referred to as 11 Rabbit (by David Kelley, because his birth date, 11 Lamat, correlates with the day "rabbit" of Highland Mexican calendars).
Go to page: The passage above (from the Temple of the Cross Tablet) records the Calendar Round date of Casper's birth - 11 Lamat 6 Xul - in the first two glyph blocks. (To the left of the ritual calendar sign Lamat is a dot for one and two bars, each representing five. On either side of the dot are "placeholders", which the Maya used to give a balanced appearance to the glyph block.) In our calendar, Casper's date of birth was August 9, 422. In the Maya "Long Count", this is written 188.8.131.52.8. At P11 of the inscription is the verb for "birth", and at Q11 is Casper's name.
Go to page: The text continues with a Distance Number at P12-Q12 that counts forward in time from Casper's birth, the verb for which is repeated at P13, with his name at Q13. This Distance Number of 13 years, 3 months and 9 days leads to the Calendar Round date for Casper's accession, 2 Kab'an 10 Xul (184.108.40.206.17). Casper was only thirteen years old when he became ruler. The verb for accession is not stated explicitly at this point in the inscription. Instead, another distance number - 6 months and 3 days (P15) - counts forward from the time of the accession (with the verb explicit at Q15) to the period ending of the ninth bak'tun (S2). In his 1993 Texas Maya Meetings presentation, Peter Mathews described this as a "couplet expression", where the first half of the couplet states a date but does not say what happened on that date, while the second half says what happened but doesn't repeat the date. The passage reads "it was three days and six months from when [P15] the white headband was tied [Q15] by him [P16] Casper [Q16] and then it happened [P17] 8 Ajaw 13 Keh [Q17-R1] he completed [S1] 9 bak'tuns [R2] at Toktan [S2]".
Go to page: It is noteworthy that this celebration of the ninth bak'tun happened at Toktan. Like K'uk' B'ahlam I, Casper was a "Holy Cloud Center Lord." The transition from the from the last day of the eighth bak'tun to the "seating" of the ninth bak'tun on the date 220.127.116.11.0 was the most important period ending in the Maya Classic. (The left glyph block above is read 9 PIK, b'olon pik, the Mayan for 9 bak'tuns. The right glyph block is to-ko-TAN-na, with the syllables in the proper order to spell Toktan.)
Go to page: The passage above comes from a recently restored Palenque monument known as the K'an Tok Tablet. (K'an Tok is not to be confused with Toktan.) Discovered in fragments on a mound associated with Temple XVI, it was assembled in its proper chronological order by Guillermo Bernal Romero (2002). It narrates the accession, supervised by Palenque rulers, of a series of secondary lords. Bernal associates these subsidiary officials with a separate site in the Palenque sphere called K'an Tok, but David Stuart finds it more probable that they resided in Palenque proper (Stuart 2000:note 4; available online). The passage above records that on 18.104.22.168.9 3 Muluk 17 Muwahn, one of these K'an Tok officials acceded under the auspices of the Palenque king identified as K'UH(UL) to-ko-TAN-'AJAW, "Divine Cloud Center Lord." Because of the date, this was clearly Casper.
Go to page: Bernal has suggested that another of the K'an Tok lords was Casper's yitz'in, or younger brother, but this relationship does not appear to be stated in the text. Bernal identifies the lord in question as K'awil, although Peter Mathews and Stanley Guenter interpret the name glyph (bottom left in Peter Mathews' drawing above) as K'ak' Chaak (Stanley Guenter, personal communication, 2001).
Go to page: This passage of the K'an Tok Tablet states that another K'an Tok lord named Ahk, or "Turtle," acceded under the auspices of the "Divine Cloud Center Lord," i.e. Casper. The glyph immediately following the verb, 'ukab'iiy, "he oversaw it", should be Casper's name. Linda Schele read the superfix (above the anthropomorphic head in the drawing) as the syllable pi, because it is sometimes written with two "stone" signs side-by-side. Simon Martin (personal communication, 2000) suggests that it is the syllable ch'a that appears elsewhere with Casper's name.
Go to page: Here is a photograph of Casper's name and title from the inscription. Due to the erosion of the stone, the superfix above the head on the left doesn't look very much like either a pi or a ch'a, except to the eye of an experienced epigrapher like Simon Martin. (Peter Mathews and Stanley Guenter have confirmed the reading [Stanley Guenter, personal communication, 2001].) Presumably the main sign is the head variant for the "ghost" glyph.
Go to page: This head variant has the Casper glyph that we have been looking at as its mouth. It was first recognized as another way of writing Casper's name by David Stuart, as will be discussed shortly. Here it appears on a ceramic vessel identified as K7147 in Justin Kerr's numbering system.
Go to page: Here, in the same passage of the K'an Tok Tablet, we see the syllables spelling Toktan in the expected order, to-ko-tan. (The normal reading order for a glyph block is left-to-right, top-to-bottom, which in this case would result in K'UH(UL) AJAW-to-ko-tan. But the Maya changed the order under certain circumstances. Here the AJAW is read last.)
Go to page: This is the caption identifying a figure depicted on a travertine vase in the Dumbarton Oaks collection. The third glyph is clearly the Palenque emblem glyph, read "Divine Palenque Lord", a title carried only by rulers of Palenque. David Stuart has observed that the prefix of the center glyph is ch'a, as in Casper's name. And he has proposed that the next part of the glyph is the head variant of Casper's main sign. (The first glyph is ch'o-ko, ch'ok, literally meaning "youth" but more generally signifying "of noble blood". The emblem glyph is the "wavy bone" spelling of B'aakal, the name of the Palenque kingdom. The little God C head in the superfix of the emblem glyph is part of the word k'uhul, "divine". It is technically referred to as a compound sign element, since it appears in conjunction with the "droplets" element and together they stand for the logogram K'UH (k'uhul is the adjectival form). The AJAW is a "conflation", or a merging, of the normal two "balls" into one).
Go to page: This is the figure from the travertine vase, a portrait therefore of Casper. On this vase he is referrred to as a divine lord of the kingdom of B'aakal. But elsewhere he bears the Toktan title.
Go to page: The "Casper" name also appears on the stunning new monument discovered in Palenque's Temple XXI in August of 2002. Among the figures depicted in the carved figural scene is Pakal the Great, who appears on the right in the photograph above (click on the picture to view it larger).
Go to page: Pakal's caption says that he is impersonating a deity named with the head-variant "Casper" glyph. (On the left above is the deity-impersonation glyph. On the right is the "Casper" head variant, prefixed by the syllable ch'a.)
Go to page: In the main inscription of the monument, the "Casper" name recurs, this time in the context of supervising a ritual in the year 252 B.C. Here we see the head variant of the "Casper" name on the left (again prefixed by ch'a) and the Palenque emblem glyph on the right. Needless to say, this is not the ruler that we have been discussing, nor is it likely to be a truly historical ruler of Palenque, given the date in the Preclassic period.
Go to page: B'UTZ'AJ SAK CHIIK: There are only two references to the third king of Palenque in all the known inscriptions. But here from the tablet of the Temple of the Cross is a clear spelling of his name. B'utz'aj Sak Chiik was born on November 15, 459 (22.214.171.124.0 12 Ajaw 13 Sak) and acceded when he was 28 years old, on July 29, 487 (126.96.36.199.18 3 Etz'nab 11 Xul). This ruler's name has also been spelled B'utz'ah Sak Chik, and it is important to realize that the "j" in the current spelling of B'utz'aj is actually pronounced as in Spanish, with the raspy glottal sound of the Spanish letter j. The third ruler of Palenque has also been called Manik and Sak-Chik.
Go to page: The first glyph block of the name is read b'u-tz'a-ja. The last syllable (represented glyphically by the moon sign) is "reversed" by the principals of the writing system to make B'utz'aj. The second glyph block reads SAK chi-ku. (SAK, the sign for the color white, is capitalized in this transcription because it is a logogram - a sign representing a complete word. The hand representing the syllable chi is well known from the month sign Manik.) Erik Boot (2000; available online) has proposed that name B'utz'aj Sak Chiik means "Smoking Lark".
Go to page: Here is the passage of the Temple of the Cross Tablet referring to B'utz'aj Sak Chiik. It exactly parallels the passages from this same monument referring to the two previous rulers. After a Distance Number in the first three blocks (18 days, 1 month, 8 years, and one twenty-year period or k'atun) is the verb for "birth". The next two glyph blocks (R5-S5) are the name of B'tuz'aj Sak Chiik. The left portion of R6 is read 'i, "and then", while the right portion is the verb for accession, spelled SAK-HUUN-K'AL, but with the normal reading order modified to produce ka'l sak huun, "the headband was tied (or held)." In the final two blocks are the Calendar Round date of the accession, 3 Etz'nab 11 Xul (188.8.131.52.18). Note that the Calendar Round for the birth date is missing, but it can be inferred by using the Distance Number to count backwards from the accession. Since there is no explicit tie to the Long Count (such as Casper's celebration of the ninth bak'tun) it would not be possible to locate B'utz'aj Sak Chiik precisely in time, since Calendar Round dates repeat every 52 years. But because this inscription follows Casper's, with its clear Long Count date, and precedes another with equal clarity, we can be certain of B'utz'aj Sak Chiik's position in time.
Go to page: This text is from the recently discovered Temple XVII Panel. It begins with an Initial Series Introductory Glyph (A1) and a long count of 9 bak'tuns (B1), 2 k'atuns (A2), 15 tuuns (B2), 9 months (A3) and 2 days (B3) - or 184.108.40.206.2 - leading to the Calendar Round date 9 Ik' (A4) end of Yaxk'in (A8). On that day, B'utz'aj Sak Chiik (B6) did something (B5) at Lakam Ha' (A6). The exact reading of the verb is unclear, but it seems to have the sense of a making a dedication (Boot, 2000; available online). Lakam Ha', literally "Big Water", refers to the city of Palenque, as distinct from the kingdom, which was called B'aak or B'aakal (Schele and Mathews 1998). We have seen how the emblem glyph associated with the founder of the Palenque dynasty is read as "Divine Toktan Ajaw" and how his successor Casper sometimes goes by this title in lieu of his regnal name. It is possible that Toktan was the original seat of the dynasty, which was subsequently moved to Lakam Ha' (in all probability the area surrounding the Palace) by B'utz'aj Sak Chiik.
Go to page: AHKAL MO' NAHB' I: The fourth ruler of Palenque was born on July 6, 465 (220.127.116.11.0) - coincidentally a major period ending, at the exact halfway point of the twenty-years between 18.104.22.168.0 and 22.214.171.124.0. He acceded 36 years later. Ahkal Mo' Nahb' I is the first Palenque ruler for whom we have a date of death as well as birth and accession. He was just over 59 when he died. Ahkal Mo' Nahb' I and the two other Palenque rulers who bore his name have been variously referred to as Akul Anab, Chaacal, Cauac-Uinal, and Chaac. And the name could change again as the hieroglyphics experts and linguists make further advances.
Go to page: The glyphs above are read 'a-ku-la MO'-na-b'i as a result of David Stuart's revised decipherment in 1999. Previously they had been read 'a-ku-la 'a-na-b'i, to make Akul Anab. But Stuart suggested that the bird's beak on the left side of the second glyph block was that of a macaw rather than a parrot, as had been previously thought (David Stuart, "K'inich Ahkal Mo' Nahb' III" online). Macaw is mo' in Mayan, while the parrot beak represents the syllable 'a, so Anab became Mo' Nab. Or rather it became Mo' Nahb', with the "h" indicating a complex vowel, as demanded by the principal of disharmony (see note), and the apostrophe after the "b" indicating, by a spelling convention that epigraphers have agreed to regularize, that ancient Mayan speakers always pronounced b with an implosive glottal sound.
Go to page: Here is another spelling of Ahkal Mo' Nahb's name, this one from the Sarcophagus of Pakal the Great. Here syllabic na-bi has been replaced with the logogram for nahb', the water lily. (A logogram is a sign that conveys an entire word, rather than just a syllable. In this case, a water lily blossom represents the word nahb', "water lily".) This is another case where the normal reading order is changed somewhat, to 'a-ku-la-MO'-NAHB'.
Go to page: And here is another variant of Ahkal Mo' Nahb', also from the Sarcophagus of Pakal. In this case we see the full form of the nahb' water lily logogram, composed of a "spotted winal" with a water lily blossom on top of it. The word Ahkal is "underspelled" since the -la is absent and must be inferred.
Go to page: This instance of the name (from the Temple of the Cross Tablet) is damaged by erosion, but you can make out the macaw's beak (MO') on top of the sign for the syllable na. Thus we have 'a-ku-la MO'-na-bi, Ahkal Mo' Nahb'.
Go to page: The Temple of the Cross Tablet records the birth and accession of Ahkal Mo' Nahb'. First we see a distance number of 17 days, 7 months, 16 years and 1 k'atun (the "1" being represented by a thumb, the word for which is na k'ab' or "first one of the hand" in the relevant Mayan languages, per Marc Zender, personal communication). The verb for birth is at S9, followed by its Calendar Round date, 5 Ajaw 3 Sek. The name of Ahkal Mo' Nahb' is at R11, while at S11 is the verb referring to the white headband of rulership which was tied or held, either by or for him (R12). This occurred on 5 Kab'an 0 Sotz'. (To the left of the bat representing the solar month sign Sotz' at R13 is a sign that means "the seating of". The Maya thought of the last day of any given month of twenty days as being the seating of the following month. In this case, the seating of Sotz' occurred on the twentieth day of the preceding month, Sip. Instead of writing this as 20 Sip, we write it as 0 Sotz' in order to make it correspond to the way the Maya conceptualized it.)
Go to page: Ahkal Mo' Nahb' is the first ruler for whom we have inscriptions other than the Temple of the Cross Tablet. This is the badly eroded beginning of the first panel of the Temple of the Inscriptions. It records that on the period ending of 126.96.36.199.0 13 Ajaw 18 Yax, Ahkal Mo' Nahb' made an offering of the period ending itself. In other words, "he gave it, the bundle of his gods, GI, GII and GIII..." is a rhetorical way of saying that he celebrated the ending of a cycle of time sacred to the deities known as the Palenque Triad. ("G1", "GII" and "GIII" are designations given by Heinrich Berlin to Palenque's patron deities, whose names we still do not know for certain. Juun Nal Ye, "One Maize Kernal", has been suggested for GI, but David Stuart has not accepted this. Unen K'awiil, "Baby K'awiil" seems likely for GII, while GIII's name begins with K'inich, "The Sun-god", and appears to have Ajaw, "Lord", over what might be read as Pakal, "Shield".)
Go to page: The Temple XVII Panel indicates that Ahkal Mo' Nahb' may have served as witness to the re-founding of Palenque in a new location. As we saw before in discussing this ruler's predecessor, the glyph at B5 may refer to the "dedication" of Lakam Ha' (A6) by B'utz'aj Sak Chiik (B6). As Erik Boot explains (2000; available online), the verb in the first half of A7, yi-ta-hi, can be translated "he looked on (to him)" or "he observed him". The person observing B'utz'aj Sak Chiik as (apparently) he dedicated the kingdom of Palenque in a new location is identified in the next glyphs. The second half of A7 is often translated as "youth", although Kathryn Josserand has suggested a more accurate sense of "emergent one" (David Stuart, personal communication, 2000). B7 reads 'a-ku-la-MO'-NAHB', Ahkal Mo' Nahb'. In the reading by Erik Boot, the inscription continues: "(On 188.8.131.52.17 at) 5 Kab'an [A8] 0 Sotz' [B8], then he receives the white headband [C1] on his head [D1], Ahkal Mo' Nahb' I [C2], Divine Lord of Palenque [D2]."
Go to page: On 184.108.40.206.7 10 Manik (top left glpyh) 15 Ch'en (top right), Ahkal Mo' Nahb' supervised the accession to office of a K'an Tok lord. The accession verb features the "flat hand" in the middle glyph on the left. The bottom glyph on the right reads K'AN-to-ko wa-WE'-la, the first part being K'an Tok and the second being the as-yet-undeciphered title of these subsidiary lords. Based on the work of David Stuart, Marc Zender (2000) translates WE' as "to eat bread-like foods (i.e. tamales)". He suggests (personal communication, 2001) that the K'an Tok lords may have been officiants at feasting rituals of the sort that Dorie Reents-Budet (2000) has documented as an important aspect of Maya court life.
Go to page: Here is the final piece of biographical information for Ahkal Mo' Nahb', a statement of his death from the Sarcophagus of Pakal. The right half of the glyph block is the spelling of his name, 'a-ku-(la) MO'-NAHB', that we have seen before, with the full form of the nahb' water lily to the right of the macaw beak (the water lily blossom appearing on top of the "spotted winal"). The left half of the glyph block has the verb 'OCH on top of the syllable b'i. In Mayan, 'och means "to enter", while b'ih means "road". "He entered the road" is a way of saying "he died".
Go to page: The Sarcophagus lid gives the date for this as 5 Kab'an 5 Mak (220.127.116.11.17 / December 1, 524). This Calendar Round occurred about 24 years years after the accession of Ahkal Mo' Nahb'. So we know that he was born in 467, acceded in 501, celebrated the k'atun ending in 514, and died in 524, aged about 59 years. We also know that he was born about six years after the previous ruler, B'utz'aj Sak Chiik. The proximity of birth dates suggests that they might have been brothers. B'utz'aj Sak Chiik became ruler when he was about 28 years old. If he died a few months before his brother acceded (the normal interregnum at Palenque), he would have been about 42 at death. Ahkal Mo' Nahb' I, who was about six years younger, then ruled for twenty-three years.
Go to page: Here is a portrait of Ahkal Mo' Nahb' from the east side of Pakal's Sarcophagus. It is interesting to speculate why he should be the first of the dynastic ancestors depicted here and in the inscriptions on the Sarcophagus lid, while the dynastic founder and the two kings who succeeded him are omitted. Stanley Guenter has suggested that Ahkal Mo' Nahb' I is the first Palenque ruler to bear the Palenque emblem glyph rather than being identified as a lord of Toktan. Guenter conjectures that the original center of Palenque was near the Picota Group, where Ed Barnhart and the Palenque mapping project have found what appears to be a complex of funerary temples similar to the Inscriptions group. Guenter suggests that Ahkal Mo' Nahb' I was the first to move to Lakam Ha', the flat area near the Palace. The next ruler, K'an Joy Chitam I, is associated inscriptionally with a childhood event that took place in Toktan. By Guenter's theory, this would have taken place before Ahkal Mo' Nahb' I moved the royal center.
Go to page: In the Sarcophagus sculpture, Ahkal Mo' Nahb' can be identified visually by the macaw beak in his headdress. He is also named in a hieroglyphic caption, together with the "wavy-bone" variant of the Palenque emblem glyph. The reader may consider to what extent this is likely to be a realistic depiction of Ahkal Mo' Nahb' I, because he died in the year 524 and the Sarcophagus was not carved until sometime around Pakal's death in 683.
Go to page: K'AN JOY CHITAM I: The fifth ruler of Palenque did not take the throne until four years after the death of his predecessor. We know that Ahkal Mo' Nahb' I died in December of 524, while K'an Joy Chitam did not accede until February 25, 529. This interregnum is long by Palenque standards - usually the time differential between one king's death and the next king's accession is a matter of months. It was not because Palenque was waiting for K'an Joy Chitam to come of age, since he was already 34 when he acceded. The biography of K'an Joy Chitam I is also significant for the fact that he lived to be almost seventy-five, a ripe old age by Precolumbian standards.
Go to page: K'an Joy Chitam has also been referred to as K'an Hok' Chitam, Kan-Xul, and Hok. All of these names arise from the reading of what has been dubbed the "toothache glyph", number T684'c' in Thompson's catalog (1962). This was originally read as hok', but when Linda Schele began to have doubts about this reading she decided to disregard the bundle-knot altogether in naming this ruler. Instead she referenced the k'an-cross in the eye and the rodent from the month sign Xul, to arrive at Kan-Xul. But then confidence was regained in the reading hok'. And Nikolai Grube read the three balls at the bottom of the glyph as the phonetic complement ma, which meant that the name of the animal must end in m. The peccary, chitam, has just the sort of blunt nose depicted. These developments led to K'an Hok' Chitam, which was changed to K'an Hoy Chitam when the reading of the "toothache" glyph was further refined. And finally, as previously noted, Hoy was changed to Joy (with the Spanish j-sound) to convey a better sense of the actual Mayan pronunciation.
Go to page: Here is a key to the reading of K'an Joy Chitam's name: K'AN-na JOY[CHITAM}-ma. The k'an-cross sign is a logogram conveying an entire word rather than just a syllable, so it is transcribed in capital letters: K'AN. We can be confident of this reading because the final n is indicated by the phonetic complement na. The bundle-knot on top of and encircling the peccary's head is the logogram JOY, while the rodent itself is the logogram CHITAM. This is transcribed in brackets - [CHITAM] - to indicate that it is infixed within the sign for JOY. Finally, the phonetic complement ma clues the final consonant m of CHITAM. The name can be translated as "Yellow (or Precious) Tied Peccary" (Martin and Grube 2000), or "Yellow (or Precious) Young Peccary" (Marc Zender, personal communication, 2000).
Go to page: The Temple of the Cross Tablet gives us the dates for the birth and accession of K'an Joy Chitam. The passage begins with a Distance Number of 16 days, 6 months, 19 tuns, and 1 k'atun. (A tun is the Maya solar year of 360 days. It is more properly spelled tuun, with a long vowel.) This counts forward from the birth of K'an Joy Chitam to his accession on 5 K'an 12 K'ayab' (R17-S17). The verb for "birth" is at R15, followed by the ruler's name at S15. R16 is transcribed in the normal reading order 'i-SAK-HUUN-K'AL, but the proper grammatical order is 'i k'al sak huun, literally "then it was tied (held), the white headband." The next glyph block is tu-'u-ba, tu 'ub'aah, "on his head". The two blocks together refer to the accession to rulership. This occurred on 18.104.22.168.4 5 K'an 12 K'ayab' (February 25, 529). The date of birth is not given, but we can subtract the distance number from the accession date and look up the Calendar Round for the Long Count number that we arrive at. This is 22.214.171.124.8 12 Lamat 6 Wo (May 4, 490). So K'an Joy Chitam acceded when he was about 39 years old.
Go to page: This eroded passage from the East Tablet of the Temple of the Inscriptions ties the accession of K'an Joy Chitam to a Period Ending. The last glyph of the passage (D6) reads "the 5th k'atun" (note the bar for the number five lying sideways on top of the k'atun symbol). This would be 126.96.36.199.0, as confirmed by the Calendar Round 11 Ajaw 18 Sek (D5-C6). Starting with this date and subtracting the Distance Number of 16 days, 7 months, and 5 tuuns (D1-C2), we arrive at 188.8.131.52.4 5 K'an 12 K'ayab', which we recognize as K'an Joy Chitam's accession date from the Temple of the Cross Tablet. K'an Joy Chitam also celebrated a Period Ending on 184.108.40.206.0 and possibly also 220.127.116.11.0 and 18.104.22.168.0, and he may have participated in an unknown event on 22.214.171.124.3 (Schele and Mathews 1993, Wald 1999). But the eroded condition of the East Tablet of the Temple of the Inscriptions makes it difficult to be certain.
Go to page: We know of another event from the life of K'an Joy Chitam from a Temple of the Sun inscription that we looked at previously, while discussing Toktan. On 126.96.36.199.0 12 Ajaw 8 Keh (November 20, 496) he participated in an event or ceremony that seems to have been reserved for royal heirs. He was about five and a half years old at the time. Glyphs P3-Q3 read K'AL-wa-ni-ya ta-'OOK-TE'-le, k'al-wan-iiy ta-ookte'-el. Since we don't know the meaning of ookte', the name of the office or ceremony itself, this is best translated "he was held in ookte'-ship." This may refer to an heir designation ceremony. It took place at Toktan, as we can see from the glyph at P5.
Go to page: We have the date of K'an Joy Chitam's death from the Sarcophagus of Pakal the Great - 188.8.131.52.16 7 Kib 4 K'ayab' (February 8, 565). On the left of the second glyph block is the verbal expression 'OCH-b'i, 'och b'ih, "he entered the road (i.e. he died)". On the right side is the ruler's name, with the K'AN sign and a na phonetic complement superimposed on top of the JOY bundle-knot enwrapping the CHITAM peccary. As indicated previously, K'an Joy Chitam lived to be almost seventy-five.
Go to page: Here is a portrait of K'an Joy Chitam I from the west side of the Sarcophagus of K'inich Janahb' Pakal. He can be identified by his peccary (chitam) headdress, with a k'an cross in the eye. Also his name appears in a hieroglyphic caption, followed by the rabbit-skull variant of the Palenque emblem glyph.
Go to page: "K'an Joy Chitam's face has the heavy, squarish look of stockily built person (Greene Robertson 1983)." Comparing this portrait with that of Ahkal Mo' Nahb', for instance, does suggest that the artist has portrayed a particular physical type, perhaps even a particular individual. As K'an Joy Chitam died in the year 565 and Pakal's Sarcophagus was not carved until sometime around his death in 683, it might seem unlikely that anyone remembered what he looked like. But we have a portrait of the earlier ruler, Casper, on a travertine vase, and it is not unlikely that there were portraits of other rulers on paper or ceramics.
Go to page: AHKAL MO' NAHB' II: The inscriptions devoted to the sixth ruler of Palenque are in exact parallel with the last two rulers that we have looked at. The Temple of the Cross Tablet refers to the birth of Ahkal Mo' Nahb' II and provides the date of accession - 184.108.40.206.1 1 Imix 4 Sip (May 4, 565). A Distance Number permits us to calculate the birth date - 220.127.116.11.4 7 K'an 17 Mol (September 5, 523). The text of the Temple of the Inscriptions records a period ending celebrated by this ruler, with a Distance Number that counts back to his accession, confirming the evidence from the Temple of the Cross. The Sarcophagus of Pakal the Great gives us the death date for Ahkal Mo' Nahb' II - 18.104.22.168.7 9 Manik' 5 Yaxk'in (July 23, 570). So he acceded when he was 41 and ruled only five years before dying.
Go to page: Here we see the name of Ahkal Mo' Nahb' II from the Temple of the Inscriptions. It is transcribed 'a-ku-la MO'-na-b'i. (The syllabic signs are lowercase: 'a, the Kawak symbol ku, la, na, and b'i. The macaw beak MO' is uppercase because it is a logogram, conveying an entire word rather than just a syllable.) This ruler took the name of a previous king, who may have been his grandfather. For a complete discussion of the name, see Ahkal Mo' Nahb' I and the note from Marc Zender below on this page.
Go to page: This is the passage from the Temple of the Cross Tablet regarding Ahkal Mo' Nahb' II. It reads, "Seventeen days, 4 months, two years, and two k'atuns from when he was born (U2), then the white headband was tied (T3) by him (U3), [name] [relationship] Ahkal Mo' Nahb' (T5), on 1 Imix 4 Sip." (There is still some controversy about whether the Sak Huun, the white headband of rulership, was tied or held, on, for, or by the ruler.) We can't read the name at T4. Apparently this was the pre-accession name of Ahkal Mo' Nahb', in other words his name before he became king and adopted the name of a previous ruler. On the Palace Tablet and elsewhere, the Late Classic ruler who took the name of the first K'an Joy Chitam, is identified by a combination of his pre-accession and regnal names. Something similar is at work here. But the glyph at U4 can now be read as 'u-mam, a relationship espression meaning "his grandfather/grandson", as discovered by David Stuart. (A complete discussion of this expression by Dr. Stuart is coming soon at Mesoweb.) Thus, the inscription is identifying Ahkal Mo' Nahb' II by his grandfather's name, saying, in effect, "he acceded as king, the grandson of Ahkal Mo' Nahb I". Note that the Calendar Round of Ahkal Mo' Nahb' II's birth is not recorded on the Temple of the Cross Tablet, but the distance number permits us to calculate it.
Go to page: This is the passage from the East Panel of the Temple of the Inscriptions. Because it parallels the information for other rulers, we can reconstruct the meaning of the eroded glyphs. At H5-H6 is a Distance Number of 19 days, 12 months, and 1 tuun (or 360-day year). This counts forward from the accession of Ahkal Mo' Nahb' II to the period ending of 22.214.171.124.0 9 Ajaw 18 Muwahn. G6 is transcribed CHUM-[mu]-wa-ni-ya. (The mu is in brackets because it is infixed within the sign for CHUM.) This is transliterated chumwani(y) and translated "he was seated" (Wald 1999). H6 is ta-HUUN-na, ta huun, "with the headband". Together G6 and H6 are another way of expressing accession. At G7 is the ch'ok ("youth") or pre-accession name of Ahkal Mo' Nahb' that we saw from the Temple of the Cross inscription. It is quite noteworthy that his rulership name is absent in this context. Instead we have the 'u-mam, "grandfather/grandson" epression at H7. The name of the grandfather, Ahkal Mo' Nahb' I, is implicit. G8 shows a "flat hand" like that which we have seen in the k'al sak huun expression for accession. Here it is holding a Kawak sign with a ni suffix, which converts the Kawak sign from syllabic ku into the word tuun, "year". This is a common expression for period-ending celebrations. Despite the erosion, we know that this is the reading because of the context, since H9 refers to 13 tuuns. And the Calendar Round 9 Ajaw 13 Muwahn (H8-G9) fits with the thirteenth tuun seating 126.96.36.199.0. Thirteen was a sacred number to the Maya, so they celebrated the seating of the thirteenth tuun as well as more obvious (to us) intervals like the tenth (half-way through the k'atun). This particular period ending was chosen for the inscription regarding Ahkal Mo' Nahb' because he did not live to the k'atun seating of 188.8.131.52.0.
Go to page: This glyph block is from the Sarcophagus of Pakal the Great. On the left, 'OCH-b'i is transliterated 'och b'ih, literally "he entered the road", metaphorically "he died". On the right is the name of Ahkal Mo' Nahb' II: the syllables 'a and ku (with la implied) over the logograms MO' and NAHB', hence 'a-ku-(la)-MO'-NAHB'. Ahkal Mo' Nahb' is not depicted on the side of the Sarcophagus like the two rulers before him. This may be because he did not leave an heir in the direct line of dynastic descent. Instead of a son following him on the throne, he was almost certainly succeded by his brother. (See the next ruler, K'an B'ahlam I.)
Go to page: KAN B'AHLAM I: The seventh ruler of Palenque was forty-seven years old when he came to the throne, on April 8, 572 (184.108.40.206.12 10 Eb 0 Wo). This was almost two full years after the previous ruler, his brother Ahkal Mo' Nahb' I, died. The name glyph of Kan B'ahlam combines elements of a snake and a jaguar. In the drawing above, the curving vertical lines coming up from the bottom of the head represent the belly scales of a snake, while the tongue and eye are those of a snake as well.
Go to page: Kan B'ahlam was originally called Chan-Bahlum because this is "Snake-Jaguar" in modern Ch'ol, a Mayan language spoken in the environs of Palenque today. But this glyph from the East Panel of the Temple of the Inscriptions shows a phonetic prefix that signals a reading of KAN rather than CHAN. The sign in question is the fish fin, representing the syllable ka, on the snake-jaguar's forehead. This contributes the k in KAN. Kan is "snake" in Yukatek Mayan, and Yukatekan words show up in the inscriptions of Palenque because "there was close language contact between Ch'olan and Yukatekan speakers in the northwest lowlands during Classic times, if not earlier (Stuart 2000; available online)". The phonetic complement ma signals that the two words being spelled together probably ended with m, so we suspect that this ruler's name was Kan B'ahlam, not B'ahlam Kan.
Go to page: Kan B'ahlam I is the final ancestor mentioned in the inscriptions of the Temple of the Cross Tablet, a monument commissioned by his dynastic namesake, Kan B'ahlam II. He is introduced with a sudden variation in the pattern of the narrative whereby a Distance Number of between 25 and 42 years counts forward from the birth of a given ruler to his accession. Here we see the comparatively much smaller Distance Number of 1 day, 1 month, and 1 year (U6-T7) counting forward from the birth (U7) of the previous ruler, Ahkal Mo' Nahb' II (T9), to another verb for birth rather than accession (U9). The glyphs U9 and T10 read "and then he was born Kan B'ahlam". The short interval of just over a year between the births suggests that Ahkal Mo' Nahb' and Kan B'ahlam were brothers, probably sons of the fifth Palenque ruler, K'an Joy Chitam I. The latter ruled for over 35 years and died at the advanced age of seventy-four. So his elder son Ahkal Mo' Nahb' did not inherit the throne until he was in his forties. When he died after ruling for only five years, his younger brother Kan B'ahlam followed him on the throne. The Calendar Round date at the end of the passage, 7 Kan 17 Mol (U10-T11), is that associated with the birth of Ahkal Mo' Nahb' rather than Kan B'ahlam, as might have been expected given the sentence structure.
Go to page: The change in formula that we saw in the previous passage signals what Kathryn Josserand has called the Peak Event of an inscription (Linda Schele 1986). The consistent linking of births to accessions in the text up to this point changed abruptly to the tying together of two birth dates. Now the rhythm of the text will be affected again by a change in syntax. Here we see what appears to be a return to the previous pattern of the inscription. A Distance Number of 7 days, 4 months, 8 tuuns, and 2 k'atuns (U11-U12) counts forward from the birth (T13) of Kan B'ahlam (U13) on 220.127.116.11.5 (September 20, 524) 11 Chikchan 13 Ch'en (T14-U14). And then instead of the expected verb for accession, there immediately follows another Distance Number - 2 days, 8 months, and 18 or 19 tuuns (T15-U15) - again apparently counting forward from the birth (T16) of Kan B'ahlam (U16) to the expression for accession - "and then the white headband was tied onto the head of (or held for or by) him" (T17-U17). We know from the East Tablet of the Temple of the Inscriptions that Kan B'ahlam acceded on 18.104.22.168.12 10 Eb 0 Wo, and it turns out that the first of the two Distance Numbers here leads to that date. The other Distance Number leads to no other stated event. As Linda Schele has commented, "...it just hangs there in an incomplete sentence." Schele continues, "In oral discourse peak events are often marked by hesitation, reversals of syntactical strategy, and other kinds of disturbances: here, the hanging sentence may be just such a disturbance. Certainly, it connects to no recorded date in the entire corpus of Palenque (Robert Wald 1999)." Schele has also suggested that the shorter distance number must lead to an important pre-accession event such as an heir designation ceremony that did not have to be stated explicitly to an audience familiar with royal ritual and dynastic history (Wald op. cit.).
Go to page: This is the reference from the East Panel of the Temple of the Inscriptions to the reign of Kan B'ahlam I. Because it follows a formula of counting by a Distance Number from an accession date to a Period Ending, we are able to reconstruct most of the eroded portion. In this case, the Distance Number of 8 days, 12 months, and 1 tuun (I2-J2) counts from what must have been the seating verb at I3. This is confirmed by the next glyph (J3) which reads "with the headband", because chumwaniy ta huun, "he was seated with the headband", is the same statement for accession that we saw with the previous ruler. Kan B'ahlam's name must have followed at I4 because the syntax demands it and we see the Palenque emblem glyph at J4. The 7 Ajaw at J5 is a tip-off that we are looking at a k'atun ending, since all k'atuns start with an Ajaw date. We know that the previous ruler, Kan B'ahlam's brother Ahkal Mo' Nahb' celebrated the 22.214.171.124.0 Period Ending but did not live to see the end of that k'atun. Thus we are given to suspect that the observances for 126.96.36.199.0 would have been conducted by his successor. And in fact 7 Ajaw 3 K'ank'in (J5-I6) is the Calendar Round for the Period Ending 188.8.131.52.0 (December 7, 573). If we subtract the Distance Number from this date, we arrive at a date of 184.108.40.206.12 10 Eb 0 Wo for Kan B'ahlam's accession, which, as we saw, checks out against the longer of the two Distance Numbers from the Temple of the Cross Tablet. The present passage continues with the verb ya-k'a-wa, yakaw, "he offered it" (J6) 'u-PIK, upik, "the skirt, dressings (of)" (I7) 'u-K'UH-li, 'uk'uhil, "his gods" (J7) (David Stuart [in prep.] for the PIK reading). The 13 Ajaw 18 Keh Calendar Round at I10-J10 is the date of another Period Ending celebrated by this ruler, which occurred five years, or one-fourth of a k'atun, after 220.127.116.11.0, on 18.104.22.168.0. This calendric period was called 'u-HO'-TUUN-ni, 'uho'tuun, literally "the five year" (I12). The glyph at J11 refers to it as 'u-pi-hi, 'upih, "their bundle". This is possessed by "the gods of" (J12) Kan B'ahlam (K1) "Divine Bone Lord" (L1). "Bone", or B'aak in Mayan, was the name of the ancient kingdom of Palenque - or it was the root of the name B'aakal, which is how the kingdom's name is spelled here: note the la subfix. (The sign to the right of the "wavy bone" is wa, a phonetic complement to 'AJAW).
Go to page: Kan B'ahlam is accorded two references on the Sarcophagus Lid of Pakal the Great. The Calendar Round of the first of these - 7 Ajaw 3 K'ank'in - is familiar to us from the Temple of the Inscriptions, where it was associated with the 22.214.171.124.0 k'atun ending. And here we see that the left half of the next glyph has infixed in its bottom element a symbol which occurs in the day-sign Kawak, distinguished by a y-shape which often looks like a bunch of grapes, and a semi-circle of dots around another semi-circular element. This can be the sign for tuun ("year"). Here it has another infixed circle and dot, which we've seen before in the accession verb chum, "seating". Glyph and infixes together refer to a tuun seating, which is to say the beginning of the new k'atun. (Incidentally, this provides an anchor date for the text on Pakal's sarcophagus.) On the right half of the third glyph block, of course, is the name of Kan B'ahlam. The vertical lines represent the belly scales of a snake, and the eye is that of a snake as well. The balls underneath are the phonetic complement ma, signaling the m at the end of b'ahlam, the jaguar aspect of the ruler's name. On top of the Kawak sign, it should be noted, is syllabic 'u, the possessive "his". In other words, this is the tuun seating of Kan B'ahlam.
Go to page: The Sarcophagus passage continues with the statement that Kan B'ahlam died on 11 Chikchan 3 K'ayab' (126.96.36.199.5 / February 3, 583). The Calendar Round is stated first. The left side of the middle glyph block is read 'OCH-b'i, 'och bih, "he entered the road". The right side of the middle glyph block is KAN[B'ALAM]-ma. The third glyph block is the animal-skull variant of the Palenque emblem glyph. The skull is read B'AAK, "bone", the ancient name of Palenque. The entire left-hand portion of the glyph block is the logogram K'UH(UL), "divine", while the "balls" on the top-right are 'AJAW, "lord". Like the other Palenque rulers, Kan B'ahlam was a "Divine Palenque Lord." Kan B'ahlam acceded at age 47 and died at 58. His reign was just a few weeks short of eleven years.
Go to page: Kan B'ahlam I is also depicted on the side of Pakal's sarcophagus. The caption for his portrait is an intriguing puzzle. Here we see the logograph K'INICH above the name Kan B'ahlam (KAN[B'ALAM]-ma), suggesting that this seventh king of Palenque was actually named K'inich Kan B'ahlam. The word k'in means "sun" and more particularly the sun-god, while -ich is an ancient nominal suffix that might not affect the translation (Marc Zender, personal communication, 2000). Thus K'inich is simply "Sun (God)" or perhaps "Great Sun" (epigraphers differ on the reading). All but one of the known kings of Palenque after and including Pakal the Great adopted K'inich as part of their names. For instance, one of Pakal's sons called himself K'inich K'an Joy Chitam, which is the name of Palenque's fifth ruler with the addition of "K'inich". It is possible that Pakal styled himself K'inich Janahb' Pakal in order to distinguish himself from his grandfather, Janahb' Pakal. With the single exception of the reference to Kan B'ahlam I depicted on this page, there is no evidence that K'inich was used in the name of any Palenque ruler before Pakal.
Go to page: Here is a portrait of Kan B'ahlam I from the west side of the Sarcophagus of K'inich Janahb' Pakal. He can be identified by his headdress, part serpent (kan) and part jaguar (b'ahlam) . Also his name appears, as "K'inich Kan B'ahlam", in the hieroglyphic caption previously discussed.
Go to page: In his sculptural portrait, Kan B'ahlam "wears a magnificent part-serpent, part-jaguar headdress. The same jester god as in the figures on the north and south ends of the sarcophagus perches on top of the jaguar head. ... [Kan B'ahlam] I and the northern figure on the west side (the first Pacal) are the only ones to wear goatees (Greene Robertson, 1983)."
Go to page: LADY YOHL IK'NAL: The eighth ruler of Palenque was a woman. Although the Maya preferred that the right to rule pass down through the male line, Lady Yohl Ik'nal ruled Palenque in her own right for twenty years. This has been viewed as a troubled time in the kingdom's history, during which there was at least one attack on the city, although the re-dating of an important inscription may well alter this assessment. (To skip ahead to a reconsideration of this topic, click here.) It is possible that previous, unrecorded warfare had elminated male candidates for rulership, thereby accounting for the accession of this queen. She was probably a sister or daughter of Kan B'ahlam I.
Go to page: Lady Yohl Ik'nal is also properly referred to as Ix Yohl Ik'nal, since the "head-glyph" is read in this context as a logogram for the "female agentive", 'IX. This can be translated "Lady" and identifies the following name as being that of a woman. The remainder of this ruler's name is a study in the history of hieroglyphic decipherment. At various times Lady Yohl Ik'nal has been called Lady Olnal, Lady Kan-Ik, Lady Ik and Lady K'anal. This profusion of names has resulted from refinements to the reading of the constituent glyphs. (The author is indebted to Simon Martin for the following analysis.)
Go to page: Let's start with the glyph that is labeled 'OHL in the drawing on the left. A logogram for the word "heart" in the sense of "core", this glyph is distinguished by the circular element on the top and the U-shaped bracket in the middle with two bands or lobes descending from it. These elements are characteristic of the calendric day-sign K'an, hence the appearance of "K'an" or "Kan" in earlier versions of this ruler's name. These same glyphic elements are also characteristic of the month known as Kumk'u in Yukatek Mayan. In the Ch'olan of the inscriptions, this month is called Ohl. That this is the proper reading of the glyph in this case is confirmed by the suffix -la, which signals the final "l". (Since the suffix is disharmonic, we know that the vowel in Ohl probably had the raspy velar sound represented by the letter "h" in the spelling. But the epigraphers are still allowing for the possibility that the vowel might instead be long or reduplicated, as indicated by the spellings Ool and O'ol.)
Go to page: Now let's consider the next name glyph, the one on the right above. We'll return to the T-shaped element in the middle, but for now let's look at the vegetation on the top, the logogram NAL, "place". Linda Schele has identified the elements on the sides as corn silks, sometimes present as part of the logogram (Schele and Mathews 1993:62). The la suffix may complement NAL. (We will consider this again later.)
Go to page: Now let's talk about the T-shaped element in the middle of the second name glyph. This is evocative of the calendar day-sign Ik' and accounts for the "Ik'" component of the current name of Lady Yohl Ik'nal, as well as the former names Lady Ik, Lady Kan-Ik, and Lady K'anal-Ik'al. Like all month signs, the glyph for the month Ik' is surrounded by a "cartouche", sometimes called a "TV set" because of the general shape and the "legs" on the bottom. (The "legs" are not always part of the cartouche.) Absent the cartouche, this glyph is number T503 in Thompson's catalog (Thompson 1962a). Glyphs are generally read differently when outside the calender cartouche, and this accounts for the absence of "Ik'" in the name "Lady Olnal", one of the names by which this ruler was once known. Reasonable epigraphic deduction had led to the conclusion that T503, with its T-shaped element, should be read as NAL when outside the day-sign cartouche. Thus the second name glyph above, which as we have seen also has NAL on top, was thought to be the "full-form" of NAL.
Go to page: This came about when close attention was paid to the hieroglyphic expression for the verb "to die". Sometimes referred to as the "wing-death phrase", the two glyphs above are read together as K'A'-yi-ya 'u-SAK-NICH?-IK'-li, k'a'ayiiy 'usak nich? ik'il, "his white flowery? breath was extinguished." Ik' means "wind", which in the context is "breath". This is a current reading by the hieroglyphics experts (although David Stuart doubts that the Ajaw face should be read as "flower"), and note that here T503 is read as IK' despite the fact that it is not surrounded by the day-sign cartouche. This is a highly unusual situation, as we shall see. Incidentally, in this metaphor for the departure of the soul, the "wing-glyph" (top left in the illustration) was once read erroneously, but understandably, as "flown away".
Go to page: Here's an example of the way that glyphs are read differently when inside and outside the calendar cartouche. The howler monkey face is read AJAW when it is surrounded by the cartouche, as on the left. When the cartouche is absent, as in the death-phrase metaphor for the soul on the right, the reading is possibly NICH, with a meaning related to "flower". (This reading is not entirely secure. It is complicated by a mi prefix on a pot from Naranjo, which suggests that the word must begin with m. As noted, David Stuart does not accept the NICH reading and points out that there is another glyph for "flower" [personal communication 2003].)
Go to page: Once the death phrase was more carefully scrutinized, Barbara MacLeod, Linda Schele, and Nikolai Grube noted two instances from the Hieroglyphic Stairs at Copan where the IK' sign was replaced by the glyph T23 from the Thompson catalog, which is ordinarily read as the syllable na. Above we seem to have 'i-K'A'-yi 'u-SAK-NICH-na-li, 'i k'a'ay 'usak nich nal, "then his white flowery(?) place diminishes (or diminished)". In other words, it looks very much like the T503 sign, which was always IK' when inside the day-sign cartouche, must be NAL when it appeared outside the cartouche, as suggested by the phonetic substitution na-li, nal. Hence the decision to call the ruler Lady Olnal.
Go to page: But then David Stuart found an instance at Rio Azul of the T23 sign, syllabic na, inside the day-sign cartouche for the month Ik'. (The drawing above is a simulation!) While we don't actually have phonetic proof for any of the day-sign readings, no epigrapher ever imagined that the day-sign Ik' was anything but IK' when the cartouche was used, as this is the word in most Mayan languages.
Go to page: Thus this T23 na inside the cartouche at Rio Azul had to be acting as a purely graphical element, in the same way that the logogram for K'UH(UL) "divine" often incorporates elements otherwise read as YAX or K'AN. These are "compound sign" elements that do not affect the reading of the logogram. For instance, the animal-skull variant of the Palenque emblem glyph above (glyph K11 of the Palace Tablet) is read K'UH-'AJAW-B'AAK-la, K'uh[ul] B'aakal Ajaw, with no reference to the k'an-cross symbol that is incorporated in the K'UH logogram. (In other contexts, the cross would be read as K'AN.)
Go to page: And if T23 na was acting as a compound sign element to IK' inside the cartouche at Rio Azul, then it must be substituting for IK' on the Copan Hieroglyphic Stairway, on the principal of pars pro toto, the part representing the whole. Above we read 'i-K'A'-yi 'u-SAK-NICH?-IK'-li, 'i k'a'ay 'usak nich? ik'il, "then his white flowery? breath diminished". (The -li suffix provides the -il which marks the compound noun "white-flower?-wind" as being possessed, i.e. "his", with the name of the possessor customarily appearing in the next glyph blocks [Marc Zender, personal communcation, 2000].)
Go to page: And so the pendulum swung back again, to calling an Ik' an Ik'. Whereas there must always be a cartouche around the face to make AJAW, IK' does not always require the ring or cartouche. And in very rare instances, it can be represented by its compound-sign element T23 na.
Go to page: So now we have IX'-'OHL-la-IK'-NAL-la, 'Ix 'Ohl Ik'nal, "Lady Heart Wind Place". As a name, this is not quite syntactically or conceptually complete. And this is where the "y" in Lady Yohl Ik'nal that you've been wondering about all this time comes in. As we have just seen, reading the glyphs above literally leads to the transliteration 'Ix Ohl Ik'nal, "Lady Heart Wind Place", whereas the epigraphers are fairly certain that her name must be 'Ix Yohl Ik'nal, "Lady Heart of the Wind Place". The Mayan y- indicating possession (English "of") is understood but has dropped out of the spelling by the phenomenon of "pronoun deletion" that turns out to be quite common with personal names.
Go to page: A good example involves the Copan ruler Waxaklajuun Ub'aah K'awiil, formerly known as 18 Rabbit. On the left above (from Quirigua Stela E) his name is spelled 18-'u-b'a-K'AWIIL, waxaklajuun ub'aah k'awiil. This can be translated "18 Are the Images of K'awiil", where the 'u indicates the possessive, "of". In the drawing on the right (from Copan Stela B), the b'a (or B'AAH) gopher and the flames from the K'AWIIL logogram have been conflated into a single sign. But the reading is essentially the same: 18-'u-b'a[K'AWIIL], Waxaklajuun Ub'aah K'awiil.
Go to page: Now compare these two examples, where the 'u is completely missing, but we know that it is implicit because of the other spellings that we have seen. The glyph on the left (from Copan Stela H) has an antropomorphic K'awiil. It reads 18-b'a-K'AWIIL. In the glyph on the right, the ba gopher and the K'awiil are conflated, for 18-b'a[K'AWIIL], waxaklajuun baah k'awiil. But the ruler's name is not Waxaklajuun Baah K'awiil, "18 Are the Images K'awiil". This makes no sense syntactically. We have to "read in" the "of". The way this is transcribed is with the 'u in parenthesis: 18-('u)-b'a-K'AWIIL in the example on the left, and 18-('u)-b'a[K'AWIIL] on the right.
Go to page: In the same way, our Palenque queen's name make no sense unless we read in a possessive, "of". Because it occurs before a vowel, the 'u that we saw in Waxaklajuun Ubaah K'awiil becomes a y- (provided by the syllable yo) in Lady Yohl Ik'nal. And there is confirmation for this deduction to be found in the recently restored K'an Tok Tablet from Temple XVI. Here the yo is unusual, having aspects of the appearance of NAL, but it is difficult to see what else it could be in the context. And it can reasonably be said to confirm our suspicion of pronoun deletion in this case. In the drawing above, we read 'IX-yo-'OHL-la NAL-IK'-la, or in proper order 'IX-yo-'OHL-la IK'-NAL-la, 'Ix Yohl Ik'nal, "Lady Heart of the Wind Place".
Go to page: Again, the "heart" in this case is not the human organ, but is used in the sense of "the heart of something". This had a highly resonant meaning to the ancient Maya, as 'ohl was also the name of the portal used in vision rites (Freidel, Schele, and Parker 1993:215), although 'ohl should not be translated "portal". In Maya iconography the portal to the Otherworld has a characteristically quatrefoil shape.
Go to page: As for the Ik' or "wind" portion of the name, this too was vitally important to the Maya. Palenque's patron deity, "Lady Beastie", was born on 9 Ik'. There are numerous Ik'-shaped windows throughout the Palace and other structures of Palenque (as in the photograph by Merle Greene Robertson above). David Kelley has written extensively on the significance attached to this day name. And David Stuart's upcoming monograph (Stuart in prep.) will continue this analysis in considering the many 9 Ik' dates in the newly discovered inscriptions of Temple XIX.
Go to page: Simon Martin points out that Ehecatl, the beaked Mexican Wind God, is both a day name and a deity associated with "the breath of life" in short, Ik' (personal communication, 2000). (The drawing above, from Mesoweb's retelling of the Aztec myths and legends, is based on Quetzalcoatl-Ehecatl from the Codex Borgia.)
Go to page: We don't have a birth date for Lady Yohl Ik'nal, because the Temple of the Cross Tablet, from which we derived the birthdates of previous rulers, stops with her father, Kan B'ahlam I. We do have her accession date however. This passage of the Temple of the Inscriptions East Panel counts forward 12 days, 14 months, and 9 tuuns from her seating (L3) with the royal headband (K4) until the "tying" of the tuun (L5). This last glyph shows a flat hand holding a kawak symbol (here read TUUN and not ku because of the ni suffix). This must refer to the k'atun ending of 188.8.131.52.0 because of the calendar round 5 Ajaw 3 Ch'en (K6-L6). The next three glyphs (L7-K8) read ya-k'a-wa 'u-PIK 'u-K'UH-li, yak'aw 'upik uk'uhil, "she offered it, the skirt of her gods". Her name follows at L8, with the Palenque emblem glyph at K9. (Her name and emblem glyph also appear at L4-K5 in connection with the accession verb.) Note that the 'OHL element of Lady Yohl Ik'nal's name is here conflated with the IX', for a spelling transcribed as IX'['OHL]-NAL-IK'-la. As discussed previously, the possessive y- must be inferred.
Go to page: For the first time in our consideration of Palenque dynastic history, we are able to refer to events other than birth, death, accession and period-ending celebrations. Unfortunately, the two events in question are warfare-related, with Palenque on the losing end. The first of these is recorded on the Hieroglyphic Stairway of the Palace's House C. The passage above begins with the accession of K'inich Janahb' Pakal in the first glyph block (A6). Reading the four collocations of this block from left to right and top to bottom, we have HUUN-K'AL-ja tu-'u-B'AAH K'INICH-JANAHB' pa-ka-la, huun k'alaj tu ub'aah k'inich janahb' pakal, "he tied the headband on his head, K'inich Janahb' Pakal. This ruler, "Pakal the Great" will not accede until decades after Lady Yohl Ik'nal's rulership, but a Distance Number (in the first three glyphs of B6) may count from his accession back to her time.
Go to page: The Distance Number and the first part of the Calendar Round date that it leads to were already eroded when Alfred Maudslay visited Palenque in 1891. The second part of the Calendar Round, the month sign, was in worse condition since it was on a stair tread rather than a riser. Maudslay made a cast of the entire inscription, but he only photographed the risers, so decipherment of the month sign has involved either consulting the cast in the British Museum or the drawing of the cast made by Maudslay's artist, Annie Hunter. In 1978, Peter Mathews (Baudez and Mathews, Capture and Sacrifice at Palenque) proposed 184.108.40.206 for the Distance Number, counting forward from Pakal's birth to (220.127.116.11.3) 6 Ak'bal 1 Yax. Mathews subsequently retracted this in favor of Floyd Lounsbury's solution of (18.104.22.168.8) 6 Lamat 1 Sip for the Calendar Round (and a Distance Number of 22.214.171.124 connecting this with a Calendar Round of 7 Chuwen 4 Ch'en later in the inscription). Mathews and Linda Schele did not agree with Lounsbury about the associated Long Count, however, deciding to place the event on 126.96.36.199.8 (April 23, 599), during the reign of Lady Yohl Ik'nal (Schele 1994a). And this is the date that has been generally accepted until recently. But after the 2002 Maya Meetings in Texas, David Stuart proposed a reconsideration of Peter Mathews' original date, the implications of which will be discussed at the end of this chapter. For now, we will proceed with Floyd Lounsbury's solution, as amended by Mathews and Schele.
Go to page: The war event verb associated with this date is in the top right of C1, the ax representing the word ch'akaj, "to chop or break up" (Schele 1995). The collocation just to the right of the ax has also been a problem in decipherment owing to its eroded condition. Finally Simon Martin looked at Maudslay's casts of the monument in the British Museum and read it as LAKAM-HA'. Lakam Ha' is the name of the flat area in the center of Palenque near the Palace (Schele and Mathews 1993).
Go to page: What we are talking about here is an attack on the very center of Palenque in which, according to one interpretation, the very gods of the Palenque Triad were "thrown down". The collocation above has been read as ya-le-je, yalej and interpreted as a passive verbal construction, "they were thrown down" (Grube 1996; available online).
Go to page: The agent of this attack is clearly from the Snake polity (later based in Calakmul but probably centered elsewhere at this time, possibly in Dzibanche). The last collocation of D1 shows the snake head of that kingdom's emblem glyph, with the ka prefix indicating that it is to be pronounced Kan instead of Chan. To the left of the emblem glyph at the bottom of D1 is a name which Simon Martin, in his first attendance at the Texas Maya Meetings, identified as that of a known king of Kan.
Go to page: As Nikolai Grube relates in his paper on Palenque's role in the great Late Classic conflict between Calakmul and Tikal (Grube 1996), this Snake king also turns up on Caracol Stela 3, in a context about 27 years before the Palenque text that we are considering. The Caracol date is 188.8.131.52.0 (August 14, 572), while the Calakmul attack on Palenque is on 184.108.40.206.8 (April 23, 599). Simon Martin, who first connected the Palenque and Caracol instances of the name at the 1991 Advanced Seminar of the Texas Maya Meetings and later in his paper on the codex ceramics king list (Martin 1997), has dubbed him "Sky Witness".
Go to page: Returning to the question of who attacked Lakam Ha' on 220.127.116.11.8, 6 Lamat 1 Sip (April 23, 599), this is the entire name-string that follows that ch'akaj verb. All of these glyphs could be the titles and name of the Snake king. A difficulty with this interpretation is that we know that a different Snake king acceded on 18.104.22.168.17 (September 4, 579). A possible solution to this puzzle lies in the glyph reading ya-AJAW-TE', yajawte', literally "Lord of the Tree". This is a known title, which might well pertain to the Snake king whose name follows. But if it were the possessed form 'uyajawte', "his Lord of the Tree", it could refer to the preceding glyphs, which would then be the name of a character who served as the Yajawte' of the Snake king. If such a lesser, "possessed" lord outlived the king who "possessed" him, he might well have continued to be known as the Yajawte' of that ruler. However, deletion of the possessive pronoun in such a context would be highly uncharacteristic of Maya inscriptions. Furthermore, there is strong reason to believe that 'yajawte', is part of a combined form with the "chi-throne" glyph before it, as Yaxchilan Lintel 21 D4 has a single glyph block reading ya-AJAW-'CHI-THRONE'-TE' (Simon Martin, personal communication 2003). Another possibility is that this "Sky Witness" was namesake of the Snake king who was a junior member of the royal family but not himself a ruler.
Go to page: Four years later, on 22.214.171.124.11, 7 Chuwen 4 Sotz' (May 16, 603), Palenque is attacked again, this time by Bonampak. This lintel from Bonampak Structure 6 was first interpreted to this effect by Nikolai Grube in his presentation at the Eighth Palenque Round Table (Grube 1996).
Go to page: The Calendar Round of 7 Chuwen 4 Sotz' is at A1-B1, followed by the verb ju-bu-yi, jubuy, "throw down" (C1). The direct object is 'u-TO:K'-('u)-PAKAL, 'u took' 'u pakal, "his flint-shield" (D1).
Go to page: The flint-shield is a symbol of warfare associated with royalty. In accession monuments at Palenque, such as the Palace Tablet of K'inich K'an Joy Chitam II, the flint-shield is presented to the king by his mother, while his father presents the "drum-major" headdress. The shield bears a flayed human face.
Go to page: The possessor of the flint-shield in this inscription is 'AJ-LAKAM HA', "He of Lakam Ha'" (B1-C1). As we have seen, Lakam Ha' is the toponym, or place name of Palenque, while B'aak (or B'aakal) is the name of the kingdom. (The tree-symbol for LAKAM is bent over with the weight of dripping honeycombs.) The glyph at D1 reads 'u-KAB'-ji-(yi), 'ukab'jiiy, "by the action of" or "he oversaw it". The name glyphs of the Bonampak ruler who threw down the flint-shield of He of Lakam Ha appear at E1-E4. The first half of E3 is an unusual spelling of y-ajaw, "his/its lord" (we know this because it is spelled ya-AJAW on Bonampak Stela 3). The second half of E3 is CHAN-na, chan, "sky", while E4 is the logogram for MUWAHN, "hawk". Thus the Bonampak ruler is referred to as Yajaw Chan Muwahn. Although, as noted, the flint-shield is associated with royalty, no one has suggested that He of Lakam Ha is the Palenque ruler, Lady Yohl Ik'nal herself. When a ruler is associated with a toponym, the designation is Ajaw rather than Aj, "he of" (or "she of"), although the K'UH(UL) prefix of an emblem glyph is often absent on enemy monuments, essentially as a sign of disrepect. One cannot rule out an intentional slight against Palenque's female ruler in this context.
Go to page: In any case, the took' pakal may reasonably be said to be Palenque's, so this inscription is construed as a successful warfare act against Palenque. However, David Stuart has pointed out that there is a modern place name Lakam Ha' near Bonampak (Schele & Mathews 1993). (The modern name is Lacanja, which refers to a small river to the west of Bonampak, from which the site of Lacanja gets its name [David Stuart, personal communication 2003]). When Palenque is referred to on the monuments of other sites, it is called B'aak, never Lakam Ha', although the context in these monuments is a invariably a reference to Palenque's ruler, identified by emblem glyph (with or without the "Divine" prefix). Palenque lacks a toponymic version of its emblem glyph, with the location Lakam Ha' in the place of B'aak, the kingdom's name. Bonampak's political affiliations at this time are not known, but the site was later under the control of Tonina, a known enemy of Palenque.
Go to page: Grube sees no evidence that Bonampak ever controlled Palenque or reaped any lasting benefit of this raid. He prefers to see it as typical of an "opportunistic war", where the temporary weakness of a rival is exploited. In this case, Palenque had recently suffered at the hands of the Snake kingdom, a polity dwarfing Bonampak in power.
Go to page: To recapitulate, we have Lady Yohl Ik'nal's accession in 583, the Snake ax event in 599, and Bonampak downing the flint-shield of Palenque in 603. Lady Yohl Ik'nal dies a year later, in 604. Somewhere between 587 and her death, she is recorded as supervising the accession of a K'an Tok lord (Bernal Romero 2002). As discussed previously, the K'an Tok Tablet from Temple XVI records a series of such accessions, presided over by the Palenque rulers Casper, Ahkal Mo' Nahb' I, Lady Yohl Ik'nal, K'inich Janahb' Pakal, K'inich K'an Joy Chitam II, K'inich Janahb' Pakal II, and K'inich K'uk' B'ahlam II.
Go to page: In this passage which can be dated to 126.96.36.199.8 (AD 603), the headband of K'an Tok officialdom (A2) is donned by a lord whose name reads in part Janahb' (B2). He is identified as a K'AN-to-ko wa-WE'-la (B3), the first part being "K'an Tok", the second undeciphered. Glyphs A4-A5 read 'u-KAB'-ya IX' yo-'OHL-la-NAL-IK'-la K'UH(UL)-'AJAW-B'AAK-la, 'ukab'(jii)y Ix' Yohl Ik'nal K'uhul B'aakal 'Ajaw, "under the auspices of Lady Yohl Ik'nal, Divine Palenque Lord". Guillermo Bernal Romero considers the K'an Tok lords to have been a kind of sajal, which is to say a lord of secondary rank under the ruler (Bernal 2002). Sajals sometimes served as provincial governors, and Bernal Romero has theorized that K'an Tok was a site separate from Palenque itself. David Stuart, on the other hand, sees no reason to assume that these "junior lords" held office outside Palenque (Stuart 2000:note 4; available online). It is interesting to note that, in contrast to the other accessions on the monument, this accession under Lady Yohl Ik'nal is explicitly stated to have occurred at a place called Ki'us (Stanley Guenter, personal communication 2000).
Go to page: In Linda Schele's drawing of the name glyph of the K'an Tok lord whose name begins Janahb', there appears to be a trace of the snout of the suutz' bat, making the name Janahb' Suutz'. However, Peter Mathews and Stanley Guenter have closely examined the monument and determined that the glyph is Ajaw, spelled out with a full head variant and a -wa suffix underneath, as can be better seen in the photograph on the left (Stanley Guenter, personal communication 2001). The head variant of JANAHB' is recognizable because it appears elsewhere on the Tablet with the characteristic flower petals around the eye (drawing at right).
Go to page: Lady Yohl Ik'nal died on 188.8.131.52.12, 2 Eb 0 Mak (November 7, 604). There was initially some difficulty with this dating, which Floyd Lounsbury was once more instrumental in resolving. Because he felt that the calendar rounds on the lid of Pakal's sarcophagus should be in chronological order, he read the first block above as 2 Eb "end of" Keh. (This is conventionally written 0 Mak, because the twentieth day of any given month was thought of by the Maya as the "seating" of the following month. Thus the first day of Mak is written 1 Mak, while the last day of the preceding month, Keh, is written 0 Mak.) The sign over Keh (top right of the first glyph block) is quite unusual. It contains elements that we have seen before in "seating" glyphs, so there was a temptation to read it "seating of". But a calendar round of 2 Eb 0 Keh would not have fallen chronological order with the other dates on the Sarcophagus. Finally Lounsbury's hunch was vindicated when it was realized that the half-head with its prominent mouth and mustache is the head variant for a superfix that appears with the tuun sign in standard "end of" expressions".
Go to page: Lady Yohl Ik'nal is portrayed twice on the side of Pakal's sarcophagus. In both cases she wears an ik' pectoral consistent with her name. Accompanying the first portrait, her name is spelled out (as IX-(yo)-OHL[IK']-NAL) in an adjacent hieroglyphic caption, followed by the "wavy-bone" variant of the Palenque emblem glyph. (See drawing.)
Go to page: In the second portrait, the caption reads 'IX-(yo)-'OHL-la NAL-IK'-la, with a second caption composed of K'UH(UL), "Divine", in one glyph block, and AJAW-B'AAK, "Palenque Lord", in another. (See drawing.) In neither of these portraits does Lady Yohl Ik'nal's headdress relate directly to her name, as was the case with Ahkal Mo' Nahb' and K'an Joy Chitam as discussed earlier. Linda Schele and Peter Mathews (1998) have pointed out the quetzal bird in the headdress and suggested that the Mayan word k'uk', "quetzal", also means "sprouts" or "new growth", and by extension "descendant". "She may be so marked for two reasons: to reinforce that she sprouted from Kan-B'alam I, the prior king, and to acknowledge that she represented 'new growth' (1998:120)."
Go to page: Schele and Mathews continue: "As a woman, she belonged to the patriline descended from the founder, K'uk'-Balam, but her children did not. Because they belonged to the lineage of their father, her accession caused a break in the descent line from the founder. It was a matter of concern for her children and their descendants, including Pakal, to legitimize this lineage shift" (1998:120). Schele and Mathews feel that Lady Yohl Ik'nal may be depicted as one of the nine stucco figures on the walls of Pakal's crypt. Stucco Figure 7 (in the photograph at left) is the only one wearing a long beaded skirt (see drawing). The other figures wear short skirts (drawing for comparison).
Go to page: Lady Yohl Ik'nal was one of only two known Maya queens who served full terms ruling in their own right, and she was the first to reign as such. Although her times may have been severely troubled by the Calamul and Bonampak incursions, she ruled for twenty years and seems to have been treated with due veneration in the records left by Pakal and his son, K'inich Kan B'ahlam II. As noted, she is featured not once but twice on the sides of the Sarcophagus. The text recording her accession and period-ending celebration, on the East Tablet of the Temple of the Inscriptions, is in parallel with the texts of the male rulers.
Go to page: However, this inscription recorded by Maudslay on the westernmost pier of the Temple of the Inscriptions designates Pakal's son, K'inich Kan B'ahlam, as the "10th Successor". The glyphs read (left-to-right, top-to-bottom) B'AAK[WAY]-AL K'INICH-KAN[B'ALAM]-ma 10-*u-*TZ'AK-b'u K'UH-B'AAK-la-AJAW-wa, b'aak(el) wayal k'inich kan b'ahlam 'u lajuun tz'ak'b'u' k'uh[ul] b'aakal ajaw, "The Spirit-Companion's Own Bone, K'inich Kan B'ahlam, 10th-Ordered-Thing, Divine Palenque Lord". (The translation is by Marc Zender. "The Spirit-Companion's own bone" is a known title or preaccession name of Kan B'ahlam II.) It was Werner Nahm who interpreted the partially effaced glyph as a formula for counting rulers seen at other sites such as Tikal (Simon Martin, personal communication, 2000). What this means is that K'inich Kan B'ahlam considered himself the tenth ruler in the line beginning with K'uk' B'ahlam I. And the only way to make Pakal's son the tenth ruler is to refrain from counting Lady Yohl Ik'nal and whoever might have ruled while Pakal was coming of age.
Go to page: If indeed Lady Yohl Ik'nal was omitted from the dynastic count, this may be simply a matter of an ancient Maya prejudice against female rulers. (The Lady of Tikal, who almost certainly ruled during Tikal's Middle Classic, seems to have been omitted from the numbered sequence of Tikal kings [Simon Martin 2003:24].) But K'inich Kan B'ahlam's esteem for Lady Yohl Ik'nal would naturally have been affected by any incursions of foreign powers testing Palenque's defences while a woman occupied its throne. And certainly Lady Yohl Ik'nal's reputation would only benefit if it turned out that she successfully safeguarded the kingdom throughout her twenty year reign. So it is in this context that we should review the dating of the Snake and Bonampak warfare events. It will be recalled that the evidence for the former comes from the Palace House C Hieroglyphic Stairway, seen in Alfred Maudslay's photograph above. This is a monument of K'inich Janahb' Pakal that records his birth and accession, the Snake attack on Palenque, and then the taking of a number of captives by Pakal. The intention seems to be to contrast Palenque's humiliation at the hands of Snake with Pakal's later military success (Grube 1996).
Go to page: There is complete agreement among glyph experts that Pakal took his prisoners on 184.108.40.206.11, 7 Chuwen 4 Ch'en, in AD 659. As David Stuart pointed out in a message to epigraphers in March 2003, an advantage of Peter Mathews' original dating of the Snake conquest to 654 in the time of Pakal rather than 599 in Lady Yohl Ik'nal's reign is that the conquest and the capture episodes, which are closely juxtaposed in the text, would be brought much closer together in time, amounting to a rhetorical "tit-for-tat".
There are compelling historiographical arguments that can be brought forward in favor of both dates. Yuknoom Ch'een is known to have waged war against Dos Pilas in 650 and Tikal in 657, so an attack on Palenque in this period seems well within the reach of this powerful and expansive Snake monarch. Placing this event in 654 might also cause us to revisit Bonampak Lintel 4, the Calendar Round of which is not anchored in the Long Count. Instead of happening during the reign of Lady Yohl Ik'nal, the downing of the flint-shield of He of Lakam Ha' might plausibly have taken place one Calendar Round cycle later, in 655 (see note 3 below).
On the other hand, the Hieroglyphic Stairway inscription refers to an Itzamnaaj B'ahlam of Yaxchilan, and whereas Bird Jaguar is known to have occupied the throne of that kingdom in 654, evidence from a carved panel at Bonampak suggests that there may have been a ruler of Yaxchilan named Itzamnaaj B'ahlam in 599 (as Peter Mathews, Stanley Guenter and Armando Anaya will be discussing in a forthcoming paper).
David Stuart elucidated yet another of the inscription's mysteries when he pointed out that Nuun Ujol Chaak, also named in the text, was not the king of Tikal paying a royal visit to Palenque as had been theorized by Linda Schele and Peter Mathews (1998), but rather the king of Santa Elena, a site that played a pivotal role in the contest between Palenque and Snake for control of the Tabasco region. It is possible that a previous king of Santa Elena had joined with Snake in the attack on Palenque and that Pakal now achieved his revenge by capturing Nuun Ujol Chaak. (There is a Nuun Hix Lakam Chaak named in the inscription without an emblem glyph; Stanley Guenter [personal communication 2002] points out that Hix and Chaak appear in a name on Santa Elena Monument 1, suggesting that a ruler of that site might well have carried a name like Nuun Hix Lakam Chaak.)
This would go a long way toward explaining the rhetoric by which a humiliating defeat at the hands of Snake seems to be contrasted with military success against some other polity or polities. But, ultimately, arguments from rhetoric or historiography are less satisfactory than letting the stone speak for itself. Unfortunately there is no photograph to aid in in pinning down the month sign as Yax or Sip. And in the photograph above, the day sign has been read as Ak'bal in support of the 654 date or Lamat in support of 599.
The epigraphical problem is that the glyph seems to show the upper point of the Lamat "star" with two characteristic circles on either side, but otherwise it has the basic appearance of Ak'bal. And whereas Ak'bal does sometimes have circular elements in its upper right and left halves, there is no attested instance of Lamat with a solid-looking lower half. Thus the most compelling solution is a "starry" version of Ak'bal (Simon Martin, personal communication, 2003). That this solution is supported in its implications by both rhetoric and historiography would seem to redound greatly to the benefit of the reputation of Palenque's queen, Lady Yohl Ik'nal.
|The dates following the IS of the hieroglyphic stairway of the Palace are somewhat eroded. The most acceptable reconstruction would appear to be:|
|A1-A4||220.127.116.11.0||8 Ahau 13 Pop IS|
|18.104.22.168.8||5 Lamat 1 Mol|
|A6||22.214.171.124||Add to IS|
|A6-C1||126.96.36.199.3||6 Akbal 1 Yax|
|C4||188.8.131.52.11||7 Chuen 4 Ch'en|
|The reading of the IS and of the 5 Lamat 1 Mol date has been generally accepted for many years. Date 3 appears to follow the practice common in many other parts of Chiapas of counting from the IS, not from the date last reached (Thompson 1954:50).|
|Marc Zender (email dated August 9, 2003) observes:|
|It is intriguing that Thompson so confidently reads the Tzolkin as 'akbal' (without even a comment), and has no difficulty with the DN of 184.108.40.206. I wonder whether all of this was a bit less eroded during Thompson's tenure. He tells us on page 45 of the same article that he made sketches of a number of the inscriptions at the site in July of 1951, as the guest of Alberto Ruz. Unfortunately, beyond his note that the glyphs are "somewhat eroded", Thompson isn't at all forthcoming about what he's reconstructed vs. what he was actually able to see. Nevertheless, and all apart from historiographical considerations, I think Thompson's confidence with the reconstructon above must go some way in convincing us of its essential correctness.|
Note 3: Stanley Guenter (personal communication 2003) feels strongly that the war by Yajaw Chan Muwaan of Bonampak cannot be moved up to 655. Sculptured Stone 4 of Bonampak ties Yajaw Chan Muwaan to his immediate successor, who only shortly after acceding flees to Yaxchilan and is portrayed receiving a crown from a king named Itzamnaaj B'ahlam. Guenter points out that unless we wish to completely throw out the later records of Yaxchilan, we know that Bird Jaguar III was ruling that city in 655, and so Bonampak Lintel 4 cannot date to 655, with 603 easily being the favored date for the monument.
While this argument does not negate the possibility of a Bonampak ruler in 655 having the same name as an earlier king (it was not unusual for a Maya lord to take the name of his grandfather), Guenter feels that the similarity in carving style between Sculptured Stone 4 and Lintel 4 suggests that the two Yajaw Chan Muwaans are one and the same. Also, according to Sculptured Stone 4, Yajaw Chan Muwaan had a very short reign, and the Lintel 4 date fits perfectly into this period.
Go to page: AJ NE' YOHL MAT: The ninth king of Palenque ruled for a short eight years during a time of troubles that may have begun during the reign of Lady Yohl Ik'nal, who was probably his mother. But as we now have cause to reevaluate that queen's reputation and the events of her reign, a recent discovery causes us to see her son in a new light. (Click here to advance to this discussion.) Aj Ne' Yohl Mat is the first of three known historical figures at Palenque to have had "Mat" as part of their name.
Go to page: Aj Ne' Yohl Mat was originally referred to as Aahc-Kan (and Ac-Kan). "Aahc" and "Ac" entered into it because of the first collocation on the left above was initially read as AHK, "turtle".
Go to page: But the turtle sign substitutes with the logogram for AJ, the male agentive "he of", in the other known spelling of this ruler's name (from the East Panel of the Temple of the Inscriptions). So the turtle must be phonetic a. As such, it is an underspelling of aj (or ah in the earlier orthography). This led to reading the ruler's name as Ah K'an and Ah Lawal Mat. "K'an" entered into it for reasons that we discussed with Lady Yohl Ik'nal. The logogram OHL appears in the month sign known in Yukatekan as K'an, and it was originally thought to have that value here. Then for a brief time it was read as wa (hence Ah Lawal Mat) before the epigraphers settled on OHL, which means "heart" in the sense of "center". Yohl is the possessed form.
Go to page: The "La" part of the previous reading Ah Lawal Mat came from the suggestion that the "scroll" element on top was phonetic la rather than logographic NE' (or syllabic ne), as it turns out to be. It is actually a depiction of a tail, and it also occurs in the glyph for the deity GII of the Palenque Triad (on the right above), whose name Nikolai Grube reads as Nen K'awiil (Schele and Mathews, 1993). This produced the suggestion that Aj Ne' Yohl Mat might be better rendered Aj Nen Yohl Mat, but most epigraphers are still not sufficiently comfortable with their understanding of aj ne'. Simon Martin, remarks: "I'd like to know whether it's ajen, aj nen, aj ne' etc. before having more of an idea (personal communication, 2000).". But he also notes that there is a reference for nen ol in the Cordemex.
Go to page: Marc Zender (email to Alfonso Lacadena et al, June, 2000) has suggested that the fringed "blobs" underneath the parrot in this spelling from Pakal's Sarcophagus might be the syllable je. This would give a-je-ne, or Ajen for the first part of the name (construing the scroll element to be syllabic ne rather than logographic NE'). But Zender himself cautions that the subfix in question could as easily be vestigial parts of the parrot's wing. And Stanley Guenter (personal communication, 2001) points out that Seibal Stela 7 has the same bird's head with wing, in a position where it has to be simple a.
Go to page: A comparison of the rather diminutive phonetic complement ma underneath the CHITAM in the name of K'an Joy Chitam (right) and the subfixed phonetic complement la under the IX[OHL] of Lady Yohl Ik'nal (left). The subfix under the parrot's head in the middle photograph is in all probability a depiction of the parrot's wing and not the syllable he as has been proposed.
Go to page: And finally, to consider the last part of this ruler's name, ma-ta is a syllabic spelling of Mat. So, in the example above from the East Panel of the Temple of the Inscriptions, we have AJ-NE'-OHL-la ma-ta, aj ne' [y-]ohl mat, Aj Ne' Yohl Mat. The Mat portion of the name also appears in the pre-accession name of the later ruler K'inich K'an Joy Chitam and in the name of his brother, Tiwool Chan Mat, who died before he could rule but passed the right of succession on to his son, who became K'inich Ahkal Mo' Nahb' III.
Go to page: It has been suggested by Sharon Bowen and Lloyd Anderson (1993) and independently by William Ringle (1996) that Mat was the name of a lineage or clan at Palenque. In the genealogy of Palenque rulers proposed by Linda Schele and David Freidel (1990), Aj Ne' Yohl Mat had a brother, Janahb' Pakal, who died before he could rule but passed the succession on through his daughter, the mother of K'inich Janahb' Pakal ("Pakal the Great"). Two sons of K'inich Janahb' Pakal bore the Mat name, but they were not in the same lineage as Aj Ne' Yohl Mat according to this genealogy, because clan membership, like the right to rule, would have passed through the male line by the principle of patrilineality. And the children of Lady Sak K'uk' would have belonged to the lineage of her husband, K'an Mo' Hix, rather than her father, Janahb' Pakal.
Go to page: But in this alternative genealogy proposed by Karen Bassie-Sweet (1991), Janahb' Pakal was Lady Yohl Ik'nal's consort. The children and grandchildren of their daughter, Lady Sak K'uk', were all in the lineage of her husband, K'an Mo' Hix. That this genealogical proposal accounts for Aj Ne' Ohl Mat and the two sons of K'inich Janahb' Pakal having "Mat" in their names does not, of course, prove the hypothesis that Mat was a lineage. Simon Martin comments: "There is a poor record of identifying patronymics or wider groupings in the inscriptions (every once in a while someone has a go at the 'Skull-Jaguar' families at Yaxchilan, quite erroneously in my view). One that does seem valid is that on Yaxchilan on Lintel 23 (front) where, despite some uncertainties as to the precise syntax, the K'ab'al Xook element seems to have been handed down from the father. Perhaps Mat does work, but we need verification to be anywhere near sure (letter to epigraphers, June 4, 2000)."
Go to page: The Mat-as-lineage hypothesis was proposed originally based on the observation that the "bird" variant of the Palenque emblem glyph is not an allograph of the "bone" variant. (Allographs are signs with a different appearance but the same meaning, that substitute freely for one another.) There are instances where both the "bird" variant and one of the "bone" variants appear together in the same context, as illustrated above. Here we see the name of the famous Palenque ruler K'inich Janahb' Pakal followed by a "Ballplayer" title and two different emblem glyphs.
Go to page: This might be a good time to quickly review what we mean by "emblem glyph". (The one above is from the Temple of the Inscriptions West Tablet.) All emblem glyphs have three components. In the first it is generally possible to recognize drops of precious liquid, possibly blood, being scattered as in an offering. This logogram is transcribed K'UH and transliterated in the implicit adjectival form k'uhul, "divine". The two balls on top of the emblem glyph together form a logogram for AJAW, "lord". The other component changes from kingdom to kingdom and respresents the given polity. The Palenque emblem glyph in its standard form has as it changing element a bone or an animal skull, both read as B'AAK. B'aak, or "bone", was the core component of the ancient name of the Palenque kingdom.
Go to page: Above on the left we see a "wavy bone" allograph of the Palenque emblem glyph. (The wa suffix underneath the bone sign complements the AJAW superfix.) Next over to the right is an animal-skull allograph of the emblem glyph. (Here the la complement, the little "blobs" at the bottom which quite frequently appear with the Palenque emblem glyph, suggests that the ancient name of the kingdom might well have been B'aakal, perhaps with a meaning of "Boney", rather than B'aak, "Bone".) At one time it was thought that the "bird" emblem glyphs at the right were also allographs, so that all the emblem glyphs illustrated above had the same reading.
Go to page: But then the same glyph was found in another context, where a phonetic subsitution revealed the true reading of the logogram. Here (on the Jambs of Temple XVIII) we see the name of the father of the Palenque ruler K'inich Ahkal Mo' Nahb' III. The distinctive long-lipped glyph, T231 in Thompson's catalog (1963), is known to read TIWOOL because of a substitution on the Tablet of the Slaves. The next glyph block is the CHAN sky-symbol over the phonetic complement na. Thus we know that the name began Tiwool Chan. The bird which appears as the last part of the name is the same as that in the Palenque emblem glyph.
Go to page: The salient characteristics are the upturned beak, the teeth, the forward-curling tongue, the fringed eyelid, the cheek feathers and the crest. (The humped beak and the feathery crest are intended to represent some sort of waterbird, most likely a cormorant.) It is clearly the same logogram in both cases.
Go to page: And here is another spelling of the name from the Temple XVIII (this one from the loose stucco glyphs of that structure). The first part is the same, the long-lipped glyph read as TIWOOL. The sky glyph has been replaced with the number four, but it has the same reading, CHAN. But the bird element has been replaced with the syllables ma and ta, spelling mat. This substitution proves that the bird, both in this name and in the Palenque emblem glyph, is also MAT. (And thus the father of K'inich Ahkal Mo' Nahb' III was named Tiwool Chan Mat.)
Go to page: The Mat bird also appears in the name of Palenque's ancestral deity, often referred to by the nickname Lady Beastie. Here we see the full name and title string of the deity in the first three glyph blocks followed by the Mat emblem glyph in the fourth. We'll return to a complete discussion of this name when we consider the next Palenque ruler. For now, note how the bird in the emblem glyph also appears in the name of the god. The epigraphers agree that "Mat" is part of Palenque's most important deity.
Go to page: "Mat" also appears in the name of the supernatural location where the gods of the Palenque Triad are born. In this sculpture from the Temple of the Foliated Cross Tablet, the Palenque ruler K'inich Kan B'ahlam II stands on top of a shell from which emerges (or into which is pulled) the primordial corn plant with the head of the maize god.
Go to page: The shell is labeled "Matwiil". (The actual reading order of the syllables is ma-ta-la-wi, since the scribe has scrambled them a little for artistic effect, but the transliteration is matwil or matwiil, where the doubled letter represents the long vowel signaled by the disharmonic suffix.)
Go to page: Here we see that GII of the Palenque Triad (Nen K'awiil) was born in Matwiil. The birth verb is at the left. The next glyph over reads ch'o-ko, ch'ok, literally "emergent one" and in this context probably "youth". And indeed the glyph for GII himself shows the deity in the recumbant posture with which the Maya represented babies. (Note the tail, ne', which we discussed earlier in connection with the name of Aj Ne' Yohl Mat, and the flames emerging from the mirror in the god's forehead.) The glyph on the far right tells the location of the birth, ma-ta-la-wi, Matwiil.
Go to page: It is no coincidence that the ancestral deity, whose name contains "Mat" and who is said to have acceded in Matwiil, is identified with the Mat emblem glyph (on the right), K'UH-AJAW-MAT, K'uh(ul) Mat Ajaw, "Divine Mat Lord".
Go to page: And here we have almost the same title, split into two glyph blocks following the deity's name - but with a signficant difference. The middle glyph is K'UH-ma-ta-la-wi, K'uh(ul) Matwiil. The glyph on the right is a-AJAW-wa, Ajaw (the center sign being part of the full form of the AJAW logogram). Together the two glyphs are translated "Divine Matwiil Lord". A comparison with the other title which we have just seen - "Divine Mat Lord" - raises the possibility that the MAT bird sign in the emblem glyph should actually be read MATWIIL. Perhaps the rulers of Palenque began to refer to themselves as divine lords not just of B'aak, the real-world kingdom, but also of Matwiil, the mythological birthplace of the gods. David Stuart and Stephen Houston (1994) have suggested that Matwiil was a mythological place of tribal origin, as Aztlan was to the Aztecs. Arguing in favor of the reading of the emblem glyph bird as MATWIIL is the frequent -la suffix. Arguing against it is the appearance of ma-ta, Mat, with no -la suffix in the names of Aj Ne' Yohl Mat, Tiwool Chan Mat, the ch'ok name of K'inich K'an Joy Chitam II, and a phonetic spelling of the primary deity's name (which we will look at later). While it is possible that the emblem glyph form was K'uhul Matal Ajaw, "Divine Matal Lord" (Marc Zender, Stanley Guenter, personal communication 2000), David Stuart (in prep.) reads it as K'uhul Matwil Ajaw, "Holy Lord of Matwil".
Go to page: Returning to a consideration of the Mat-as-lineage topic, here we see that the quasi-mythological ancestor of the Palenque rulers (whose name, U "Spine" Chan appears at F13 of this passage from the Temple of the Cross Tablet) was said to be a Divine Mat (or Matwiil) Lord (E15). Barring this instance, no Palenque ruler before K'inich Janahb' Pakal bore the Mat emblem glyph. This is consistent with the hypothesis that the Mat patriline was introduced by the father of Aj Ne' Yohl Mat (the grandfather of K'inich Janahb' Pakal). By this argument, the female rulership of Lady Yohl Ik'nal occasioned a dynastic "sidestep", before which the rulers were of a different patriline and therefore did not bear the Mat emblem glyph. In assessing this proposition, it is important to bear in mind that we lack contemporaneous records for the rulers before K'inich Janahb' Pakal, and that what we know of them comes from his inscriptions and those of his son. Furthermore, their inscriptions about the previous rulers are limited to those which we have considered, so it may be a coincidence of available space that the only other emblem glyph to appear with these rulers other than the Bone is that of Toktan. (Bowen and Anderson  have suggested that Toktan was the lineage previous to Mat.) At any rate, by the Mat-as-lineage hyphothesis the quasi-mythological dynastic founder was also the founder or patron of the Mat lineage.
Go to page: William Ringle (1996) has pointed to this painted inscription from House E of the Palace in connection with the Mat lineage hypothesis. (The photograph above, from Seler (1976) after Maudslay's Biologia Centrali-Americana, 1896-1899: Vol. IV, Pl. 42), shows more detail than remains today on the wall above the Oval Palace Tablet.) The Palenque ancestral deity can be see at D, followed by the Mat emblem glyph at E. At C is the outstretched hand that we have in accession verbs. Above, in the place of the usual headband of rulership, is the Mat bird. According to Ringle, this "would seem to make explicit [the deity's] role as ruler of the mat segment." As an alternative hypothesis, Ringle has proposed that Mat might refer to a barrio, in other words a "neighborhood" or physical location within Palenque. (In this context, one would want to consider the possibility that Toktan is also such a location, bearing in mind that earlier rulers are said to have performed ceremonies "at" Toktan, as previously discussed.)
Go to page: To conclude the Mat lineage topic and resume our consideration of the ruler Aj Ne' Yohl Mat, we might just observe that the inscriptions pertaining to him, such as this one here from the East Tablet of the Temple of the Inscriptions, accord him the B'aak emblem glyph alone (L12). (Again, the inscriptional references to this ruler are meager, and the absence of the Mat emblem glyph might be coincidental, owing to considerations of space on the given monument.) Here a distance number of 10 days and 8 months counts forward from the accession of Aj Ne' Yohl Mat. The expression for accession in this case is CHUM-[mu]-wa-ni-ya, chumwaniiy, "from when he was seated" (L10) ta-AJAW-le, ta' ajawle[l], "in the lordship" (K11). The ruler's name is at L11-K12: AJ-ne-OHL-la ma-ta, Aj Ne' Yohl Mat. At L12 is the Palenque emblem glyph: K'UH-AJAW-B'AAK, K'uh[ul] B'aak[al] Ajaw, "Divine Palenque Lord". The date of Aj Ne' Yohl Mat's accession was 220.127.116.11.10 8 Ok 18 Muwahn (January 4, 605). (As with Lady Yohl Ik'nal, we don't have a birthdate for Aj Ne' Yohl Mat.)
Go to page: The distance number in the previous passage counts forward to the first glyph here: U-TU:N-ni-K'AL, uk'al tuun, "he tied the tuun" (M1). (It is by counting backwards from the distance number from this period ending celebration that we calculate the accession date that was implicit in the previous passage.) The period ending was celebrated on 18.104.22.168.0 5 Ajaw 18 Sek, as we see from the calendar round at N1-M2. The glyph at L2 (13-TU:N-ni, oxlajuun tuun, "13 tuuns") indicates that this was the end of the thirteenth year within a k'atun rather than a k'atun ending. The next three glyphs underline this fact: ma-cha-ha, machah, "there was no" (M4), chu-[mu]-[TU:N]-ni, chum tuun, "tuun seating" (N4), yi-li-a-hi, yilahi', "(that) he witnessed". We know from another inscription that Aj Ne' Yohl Mat did not live to see the seating of the next k'atun, which is just what this passage is saying. The ruler's name follows at N4-M5: AJ-ne-OHL-la ma-ta, Aj Ne' Yohl Mat. Note the head variant of the syllable ta, a beast with a distinctive earring, a skeletal jaw and an upturned snout like that of the Mat bird. It is not, however, a variant of the Mat bird, which would be read MAT instead of ta. (The Mat bird does appear elsewhere in this context, but the reading is ma-MAT, the ma being a phonetic complement, rather than syllabic ma-ta.) At N5 is the animal-skull variant of the Palenque emblem glyph: K'UH-AJAW-B'AAK, K'uhul B'aak(al) Ajaw, "Divine Lord of B'aakal".
Go to page: It was during the reign of Aj Ne' Yohl Mat that one of the most traumatic events in Palenque history occurred. The passage from the Temple of the Inscriptions continues with a distance number of 14 days (M6) and 6 months (N6) counting forward from 13 Ajaw (M7) 18 Mak (N7) (22.214.171.124.0). The verb (M8) is ch'a-ka-ja, ch'akaj, "(it was) destroyed." And the object of this action was LAKAM-HA', Lakam Ha', "Big Water" (N8), which is the name for the center of Palenque. In short, an enemy conquered and sacked Palenque.
Go to page: The passage continues with the Calendar Round date 4 Ix (M9) 7 Wo (N9) (126.96.36.199.14) on which the attack took place. At M10 is the expression u-KAB'[ji]-(yi), u kab'jiiy, "he oversaw it", followed by the undeciphered name of a king at N10, with his emblem glyph at M11, K'UH-AJAW-KAN, K'uh(ul) Kan Ajaw, "Divine Lord of Kan". The complete passage may be translated as "14 days and 6 winals after 13 Ajaw 18 Mak, Lakam Ha' was axed on 4 Ix 7 Wo by the doing of Scroll Serpent, Divine Kan Lord" (Stanley Guenter, personal communication, 2001)".
Go to page: The emblem glyph in this passage was originally thought to refer to the polity of Pipa' (or Pomona, elsewhere recorded as an enemy of Palenque) and not the Kan kingdom, as you will see if you read Nikolai Grube's (online) account of the warfare against Palenque during the reigns of Aj Ne' Yohl Mat and his mother, Lady Yohl Ik'nal. The emblem glyph of Pipa' is on the right. You can see that its toponym (center) is quite similar to the eroded emblem glyph of the Kan kingdom from the Temple of the Inscriptions (left).
Go to page: But then Simon Martin recognized the name of the Kan king known as Scroll Serpent, who who ruled at the turn of the seventh century. (There's still no reading for the actual name represented by the serpent with a scroll-like volute emerging from its gaping jaws. The sign on the left is the possessive pronoun u, "his, hers, its", that forms part of a number of royal names associated with the Kan kingdom.)
Go to page: This inscription from the same tablet begins with a reference to the k'atun ending 188.8.131.52.0. (We see "9 bak'tuns, 9 k'atuns" at O6-P6.) To review the unfortunate events of the k'atun leading up to this date, there were the Kan and Bonampak aggressions that may have taken place in the time of Lady Yohl Ik'nal and the second Kan attack during the rulership of her son. As a result, the inscription reads sa-ta-yi K'UH-IXIK, satay k'uh[ul] ixik, "lost is the divine lady" (O8-P8), sa-ta-yi K'UH-AJAW-wa, satay ajaw, "lost is the lord" (O9-P9), a couplet expression of obscure but clearly woeful meaning (Martin and Grube 2000). It might even imply that members of the royal family had died or been killed, since there seems to have been another problem with the succession after the death of Aj Ne' Yohl Mat, as we will see when we consider the next ruler.
Go to page: This passage from the lid of Pakal's sarcophagus relates the death of Aj Ne' Yohl Mat on 2 Kimi (A) 14 Mol (B) (184.108.40.206.6, August 11, 612). The verb for death is at C: OCH-b'i, och b'i[h], "he entered the road." He had ruled for less than seven years. There is no portrait of Aj Ne' Yohl Mat on the side of Pakal's sarchophagus, as there is for Pakal's other predecessors going back to Ahkal Mo' Nahb' I. But as we have noted, Ahkal Mo' Nahb' II is not depicted either. And as we shall see in our consideration of the next Palenque ruler, it is possible that this ruler is omitted as well. In the cases of Ahkal Mo' Nahb' II and Aj Ne' Yohl Mat, it has been suggested that they are not depicted because they did not leave heirs in the direct line of dynastic descent.
Go to page: It has even been speculated that Aj Ne' Yohl Mat received short shrift on Pakal's sarcophagus because his reign, marked as it was by the devastating Kan attack, was something of an embarrassment to subsequent generations at Palenque. But this historial innuendo has now been silenced by a discovery made by Nikolai Grube in the museum at Balancan in the state of Tabasco.
The photographs above show five glyphs of Santa Elena Monument 1. Located on the Río San Pedro, Santa Elena has been identified by David Stuart as the home of the "Wa-bird" emblem glyph known from the inscriptions of Palenque, Piedras Negras and Site Q (Simon Martin 2003; citing David Stuart, personal communication 2000). The incomplete text of Monument 1 from Santa Elena records the accession a local ruler, whose name glyphs appear above (click on the thumbnails to view larger versions; more photographs will appear in the upcoming Mesoweb PARI Photo Database).
The first glyph on the left is the "flat-hand" accession expression reading u-k'ahlaj huun tub'aah. (Under different lighting, the collocation on the left side of the glyph appears to be AJ, but Simon Martin [personal communication 2003] has examined the monument in the museum and in the photographs and determined that it is the ergative U.) The glyph on the right is the "Wa-bird" emblem glyph of Santa Elena.
Go to page: The inscription states that the accession of the Santa Elena ruler was supervised by the king whose name and emblem glyph appear above. The glyphs of the center photograph are the easiest to read. On the right is a clear ma superfix over a clear ta syllable, yielding mat. This was the smoking gun for Nikolai Grube, who immediately recognized the left collocation as OHL and the emblem glyph in the photograph on the right above as the skull allograph of the Palenque emblem glyph (note the K'UH(UL) droplets).
The only part of the photograph on the left that can be read with any certainty is the "tail" sign at the bottom, for ne. But the remains of the collocation on the left are entirely consistent with the AJ that begins this ruler's name. (For the effaced central sign and two more photographs, see the earlier discussion. More photographs will appear in the Mesoweb PARI Photo Database.)
There is no date on Santa Elena Monument 1, so it is impossible to say whether the event overseen by Aj Ne' Yohl Mat took place before or after the Kan attack on Palenque. But clearly the Palenque ruler had been playing power politics in Tabasco, asserting (or perhaps re-asserting) control over a hub of the Río San Pedro, a major trade artery leading toward the central Maya lowlands and the Kan kingdom's rival Tikal. (This was the route that the Teotihuacan warlord Siyaj K'ak' seems to have followed in conquering that kingdom.)
We know from another inscription that a Kan king supervised an accession in 662 at Moral-Reforma, not far from Santa Elena on the fertile plains along the banks of the Usumacinta. It would have been in the context of vying for influence in Tabasco, and quite possibly with the provocation of Palenque scoring a coup in that regard by asserting overlordship over Santa Elena, that Kan attacked Aj Ne' Yohl Mat on his home ground on 220.127.116.11.14 4 Ix 7 Wo (April 7, 611).
Go to page: We are given another insight into the Santa Elena connection on this stone incensario stand that was found in Group IV (where the Tablet of the Slaves was also discovered). It probably depicts Aj Sik'ab', who acceded into the high office of ti' sakhuun (possibly meaning spokesperson for the king) during the reign of Aj Ne' Yohl Mat. He wears a cut-feather headdress with goggle rings associated with Teotihuacan.
The text on the flanges of the monument states that on 18.104.22.168.14, 8 Ix 12 Muwan (December 28, 610), one or more individuals acceded into the office of yajaw k'ak' under the supervision of Janaab' Pakal (this is the "other" Janaab' Pakal who was discussed in connection with the sarcophagus of Pakal the Great; the idea that it might have been a group accession comes from Marc Zender [personal communication 2003]).
The Calendar Round associated with this event, 8 Ix 12 Muwan, appears just above the earflare on the left. The top glyph on the right side is k'ahlaj huun, followed by tub'aah, for the standard accession formula. The third glyph reads ta-ya-ja-wa-K'AK'-il, ta yajaw k'ak'il, "into [the office of] yajaw k'ak'". The next glyph is the name of Aj Sul (AJ-su-lu), a sublord who will go on to serve Pakal the Great and appear on other monuments at Palenque.
Go to page: The text continues around the side and onto the back of the flange. It goes on to state that three days later something happened to a lord of Santa Elena, an event which is connected somehow with the accession of Aj Sul as yajaw k'ak'. (Schele 1997). The left side of the top glyph in this photograph by Simon Martin reads i-u-ti, i uht, "then it happened", followed by the Calendar Round 11 Kaban (right side of the top glyph) 15 Muwan (left side of the second glyph). The right side of the second glyph is the verb which tells what happened to the Santa Elena lord. Before we go on to examine it, let's note two things about the photograph. First, the carving is rather crude by Palenque standards. Second, the erosion is not so severe as to interfere unduly with the reading of the signs.
Go to page: On the left above is the verb bearing on the fate of the Santa Elena lord. Next to it are two very similar verbs that occur later in the same inscription. The one in the middle is pretty clearly mu-ka-ja, muhkaj, "was buried". This is the kind of verb we expect to see on monuments of this type, which seem to have served as funerary memorials.
The glyph on the right probably reads OCH-ja, ochaj, "entered". This would seem to be a cryptic death expression, lacking as it does any indication of the thing entered, be it "water" or "road". We have seen how Pakal's sarcophagus states that Aj Ne' Yohl Mat "entered the road", meaning he died. On Tikal Stela 31 occurs the famous passage where Jaguar Paw of Tikal is said to have "entered the water" on the very day of the arrival of the "strangers" from Teotihuacan. But there is nothing sinister going on in the present instance, as the subject of this apparent death verb here is Aj Sik'ab', the ti' sakhuun depicted on the monument.
That leaves us to puzzle over the glyph on the left, which describes what happens to the lord of Santa Elena just three days after Aj Sul is sworn into the office of yajaw k'ak'. The collocation on top can be said to have either the diagnostic curve of the mu in the center photograph or the curve of the "partitive marker" on the "fist" sign for OCH that we see in the photograph on the right. (When Maya glyphs show a body part, they always indicate where it was severed from the body. The dot in the middle of the curve may be the bone, seen in cross section.)
Continuing our examination of the mystery glyph on the left, we might ask if the center collocation is ka, as in the photograph in the middle. And is the sign below it ja, again as in the middle photograph? This is by no means obvious. And if the sign on top is OCH rather than mu, then -ka-ja would make no sense. Marc Zender (personal communication 2003) suggests that the signs have at least the general shape of OCH-U-CH'EN, a war expression meaning that Aj Sul (and the others who acceded into the office of yajaw k'ak' with him) attacked the center of the kingdom of the Santa Elena lord.
(It is worth nothing that one of the other Palenque monuments that names Aj Sul a block that was reused in the masonry of one of the North Group temples shows him in a military context. Another indication that the office of yajaw k'ak' has strong associations with warfare comes from the Tablet of the Slaves, which records an impressive string of military triumphs achieved by the yajaw k'ak' Chak Sutz'.)
Whatever the fate of the Santa Elena lord, it came only months before the Kan attack on Palenque. On the available evidence, it is impossible to say whether Kan had wrested Santa Elena from Palenque control and Aj Sul scored a victory in trying to gain it back (but provoked the Kan attack on Palenque in the process), or whether the stone incensario records the death of a Santa Elena lord loyal to Palenque (who might conceivably have been killed by Kan). Since we don't know the date of the accession on Santa Elena Monument 1, it is even conceivable that this assertion of Palenque overlordship in Tabasco followed the Kan attack.