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PACAL [also known as Pakal, Hanab-Pakal, Pacal the Great, Lord Shield Pacal, Lord Shield-Pacal, Subject A, Sunshield, Sun-Shield, Lady 8 Flower]. Probably the greatest ruler of Palenque. He ruled from 9.9.2.4.8 (A.D. 615) to 9.12.11.5.18. (A.D. 683). He ascended the throne at age 12 years 125 days, and died at age 80 years 158 days. He is entombed in the sarcophagus of the Temple of the Inscriptions.


Above is one of several forms of the glyphic expression of his name. It is from the west panel of the Temple of the Inscriptions, column A, row 3.


Left glyph, superfix: Mah K'ina , a title of honor and respect for lineage heads and rulers.
Left glyph, main sign: an iconic sign for Shield, possibly read as Pacal , a Mayan word for shield, or as Chimal , another widely used word for shield, which was a borrowing from Nahuatl.
Right glyph, top: a phonetic sign for the syllable pa .
Right glyph, center: a phonetic sign for the syllable ca .
Right glyph, bottom: a phonetic sign for the syllable la  or for a final l  following a . The three together read Pa -ca -l , a spelling of the Mayan word for shield.


His name was probably a double name, with a personal name 'Shield' (either Pacal  or Chimal ) and a lineage name 'Shield' (certainly pronounced Pacal ). The name Pacal is well documented as a lineage name among the Quiché, still in use throughout the sixteenth century. It was probably known and so used amongst other Mayan peoples also.

The title Mah K'ina  was also known in the highlands still in colonial times and is documented for that period. It too must have had wide currency. It is of two parts, which could be used separately or as a compound. The first part was current in colonial times as a Cakchiquel title for heads of lineages, and it is still used today among the Chol for the chief mayordomos of their principal saints.


Floyd G. Lounsbury.

(updated reading of the glyphs)


West Panel, Temple of the Inscriptions, columns A-D, row 4

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