Unknown: Lintel 25 from Yaxchilan (A.D. 755-779)

(British museum, London, UK)

A lintel made by an unknown 8th century Maya artist. This beautiful stone is from the ancient Maya city of Yaxchilan (today the ruins are in the state of Chiapas, Mexico) and used to be set with two others above the doorway of the central acropolis (now known as 'structure 23'). Structure 23 was the first major building to be constructed after a gap of 150 years and the entire set was intended to reinforce the lineage and the right to rulership of the new king of Yaxchilan, Itzamnaaj B'alam II (Shield Jaguar II). This lintel is dedicated to the wife of Shield Jaguar II: Lady Kʻabʻal Xook (the person in the lower right corner). Lady Kʻabʻal Xook is shown performing a ritual which involves the conjuring of a vision of a large serpent. The serpent itself comes from the smoke of a small basket which is in the lower center. This basket contains papers which is soaked in blood which has been collected during a blood-letting ritual (see lintel 24). These paper are set on fire and from the smoke comes this vision serpent. From the mouth of the serpent emerges a figure with a shield and a spear. Who this figure is, is not clear: could be an ancestral spirit or the founder of the kingdom. Lintel from A.D. 755-779.

Another lintel of this set: Lintel 24 of Yaxchilan