Unknown: Lintel 16 from Yaxchilan (A.D. 755-779)

(The British Museum. London, UK)

Another magnificent Maya lintel from the classic period. What we are seeing here is a typical victory scene. The standing person is Yaxun B’alam IV (or Bird Jaguar IV), king of the city-state Yaxchilan. He is shown as soldier with a spear and shield. The sitting person is identified in the text as YAX KIB TOK’ (= First Crooked Flintknife) and that he was a 'AH WAK’AB U SAHAL' of ' PAYA(H) LAKAM CHAAK'. This means that the sitting person was subordinate dignitary (according to his name propably the High Sacrificial Priest of his state and lineage) of the higher ranking lord PAYA(H) LAKAM CHAAK. In his right hand the sitting person holds an parasol. This parasol was a metaphor for the king’s army and was flown on high over everybody’s head, on a long shaft of about 3 meters length and more - the Maya-version of a flag. The umbrella is broken, a symbol that he is a captive. The jade ear ornaments have been taken from the sitting person. Instead stripes of bark paper are inserted in the holes of his earlobes. These paper ornaments are a part of the attire of persons destined to be sacrificed. The sitting person is shown in a kneeling position, the rope around his neck and his arms, and his left hand lifting dirt to his mouth, all express a condition of ultimate defeat and humble submission. The text explains that this event took place on 9.16.0.13.17 6 Caban 5 Pop or 10 February 752. The text also tells us that king Yaxun B’alam IV is 'He of the twenty prisoners". This title means that king Yaxun B’alam IV had captured twenty enemies with his own hands in battle. So in conclusion this lintel tells us on February 6, 752 A.D., king Yaxun B’alam IV of Yaxchilan won a battle against a rival city-state and took what was probably the high priest of his adversary’s polity prisoner. The noble prisoner was sacrificed later to the gods. This lintel was made around A.D. 755-779.

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