Ritual and History in the Stucco Inscription from Temple XIX at

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Ritual and History in the Stucco Inscription from Temple XIX at Powered By Docstoc
					Ritual and History in the Stucco Inscription from
Temple XIX at Palenque

Before 1999, Temple XIX drew little             tance numbers connect the dates, but
attention from archaeologists and visitors      they can nevertheless be securely placed
to Palenque. Its location within the larger     in the Long Count as:
architectural complex of the Cross
Group, and its orientation facing directly      A1: 3 Ajaw 3 Yaxk’in
toward the imposing Temple of the               B2: 6 Ajaw 13 Muwan
Cross, gave some indication that it was         C2: 9 Ajaw 18 Tzek
an important building, but as a fallen
structure nothing more could be said of         The middle of these can only be the
its date or significance. Thanks to the         K’atun ending, as confirmed
recent efforts of the Proyecto de las           by the glyph which follows at C1,
Cruces, under the auspices of INAH and          CHUM-TU:N-ni or chum-tu:n, “stone-
PARI, Temple XIX’s anonymity has                seating.” Such expressions are used
completely changed. With its four impor-        throughout texts at Palenque, Pomona
tant inscribed monuments, this building         and some neighboring sites to describe
can now be appreciated as one of the            the initiation of a series of twenty ritual
major ritual structures of the ancient city.    stones that symbolized the twenty units
                                                of the K’atun period (Stuart 1996). The
This paper examines one of Temple               Period Ending in the second date there-
XIX’s inscriptions, the text on the stucco      fore serves as a welcome anchor for the
panel decorating the east side of the tem-      placement of the other two dates in the
ple’s interior central pier (Figure 1). 1 The   Long Count, as given above.
immense modeled and polychrome sculp-           Significantly, all three dates are earlier
ture depicts a striding figure clad in a        than most others cited in Temple XIX’s
very unusual costume. The theatrical            inscriptions. The building’s dedication
dress is designed as a representation of a      ceremony — what the Maya called an
huge bird’s head that seems to consume          och k’ak’ or “fire entering” — was on
the wearer, whose upper body emerges   9 Kib’ 19 K’ayab’,
from the open beak. The stone panel             recorded in the three other texts of the
attached to the front of the very same          temple. The building therefore dates to
pier depicts the Palenque ruler K’inich         nearly twenty years after the latest of the
Ahkal Mo’ Nahb’ in a similar bird               three dates in the stucco inscription.
head costume showing some differences           Evidently, the stucco panel commemo-
in detail.                                      rates times and events that occurred sig-
                                                nificantly before it was made. It is diffi-   Figure 1. General view of the Temple XIX stucco
A text of sixteen hieroglyphs accompa-          cult to know at present if the stucco         panel (photograph by Mark Van Stone/Mesoweb).
nies the stucco portrait (Figure 2), each       panel was produced at the time of the
glyph painted dark blue against a red           temple’s dedication or, alternatively, was    Tuns thus separate the initial and final
background. The inscription is difficult to     a somewhat later addition.                    date. More of this will be discussed as
read in places, yet enough is understand-                                                     we consider the details of the narrative
able to reveal several new insights into        A simple but interesting numerological        and the glyphs within the text.
the ritualism and dynastic history of Late      pattern links all three dates. Taken in
Classic Palenque.                               sequence, each is separated by the same       Notes on the Inscription
                                                interval of 2.9.0, or 900 days. While
The Three Dates                                 never noticed before as a meaningful          The opening date 3 Ajaw 3 Yaxk’in pre-
                                                subdivision in Classic Maya time reckon-      cedes an unusual verb or predicate at B1.
Three Calendar Round dates appear in            ing, 2.9.0 is a “half hotun,” the exact       The glyph block is partially lost, but the
the inscription, each accompanied by a          midpoint within the ritually important        upper left corner displays a man’s head
short verbal statement (Figure 3). No dis-      span of five Tuns (5.0.0). Exactly five       turned upward, and enough details are

left to indicate the presence of a                                                                           Jumping ahead some-
feathered wing a little below. Full                                                                          what, we will come to
examples of this odd “bird man”                                                                               find two other examples
are attested in other inscriptions                                                                              of the same ‘U-
from Palenque, Tonina and possi-                                                                                 “heron”-le glyph in
bly Tikal, but its reading remains                                                                           this inscription (at D1b
problematic. One comes from the                                                                              and D3a) - a remarkable
fragment of a stone slab, possibly                                                                            fact considering that this
a throne or sarcophagus lid, found                                                                             represents one quarter
on Temple XXI at Palenque                                                                                    of the entire text. Each
(Schele and Mathews 1979: no.                                                                                appears in direct associa-
553) (Figure 4a). Its incomplete                                                                             tion with one of the three
text shows only the end of a           Figure 2. The hieroglyphic inscription                                 dates, and it is probably
Supplementary Series and “3            (drawing by the author)                                                  no coincidence that
Yaxk’in,” followed by the bird                                                                                   these dates are all
man glyph. Given the month and         Transcription of the Stucco Text from                                 connected numerologi-
verb combination, the Temple XXI       Palenque, Temple XIX                                                  cally. With the ‘u-nah
text very likely recorded the same                                                                           “first” modifier before-
date we find in Temple XIX,            A1: ‘UX-’AJAW ‘UX-YAX-K’IN-ni                                          hand, I suspect that ‘u- 3 Ajaw 3 Yaxk’in.          B1: ?                                                                   “heron”-le can be ana-
                                       A2: ‘U-NA:H-hi ‘U-?-le                                                lyzed as a noun derived
The full-figure bird man also          B2: WAK-AJAW ‘UXLAJUN-                                                from an intransitive verb
occurs as a verb or predicate in             MUWA:N-ni                                                       (“it is his first ‘x’-ing”).
two Tonina inscriptions.               C1: CHUM-TU:N-ni
Monument 141 cites it in connec-       D1: ‘U-CHA’-TAL-la ‘U-?-le                                             Whatever action the
tion with the date 4        C2: B’OLON-’AJAW WAXAKLAJUN-                                             heron records, it is the
Ajaw 13 Ch’en (Figure 4b). It                ka-se-wa                                                            key topic of the
stands alone without any other         D2: k’a-[ma]-? hi-li                                                   inscription.
verb or protagonist, suggesting        D3: ‘U-?-le ‘U-PAKAL-K’INICH                                          Unfortunately, its deci-
that it somehow describes some         D4: b’a-ch’o-ko ?-NAL-la                                                pherment is unlikely
general characteristic of the date,    D5: ch’o-ko ne-?-la                                                      until more examples
rather than an action of any kind.     D6: ?-?-K’UH                                                              can be found; only
Another Tonina stela (as yet                                                                                 one other case of the
undesignated) bears the date                                                                                 glyph is known, also 8 Ajaw 8 Zip on its base,        17.9.0) of the four standard hotun subdi-      from Temple XIX at Palenque (Figure 6).
once more with the bird man glyph.2          visions of the K’atun. It seems, then, that    There, on the inscribed platform, the
Here it follows a standard half-period       the bird man marks a previously                heron occurs in the name caption of a
glyph (‘u-tanlam-il), indicating that the    unknown ritual or calendar cycle. It is        seated noble, but without any of the
Maya themselves viewed the date as the       interesting, however, that the last date in    affixation seen in the stucco inscription.
midpoint of the 5 Tun period, as already     the stucco text from Temple XIX,               It occupies a very different syntactic
described.                         , fell on the same kind of sta-      position, therefore, as a title or personal
                                             tion, but that no bird man glyph accom-        reference.
Grouping the bird man references from        panies that statement.
Palenque and Tonina, we find that the                                                       The heron sign, with its image of the bird
dates fall into a possible pattern:          The third glyph of the stucco text (A2)        taking a fish in its beak, may be connect-
                                             follows the bird man and presumably            ed to the distinctive costume worn in the 4 Ajaw 13 Ch’en/                  provides more specific information about       scene below. Although damaged and
   TNA: M.141                                the opening date. Its first part is ‘U-        incomplete, the huge outfit worn by the 3 Ajaw 3 Yaxk’in/                NAH-hi, ‘u-nah, “(it is) his/her/its first.”   walking male figure represents a kind of
   PAL: T.XIX stucco; T. XXI slab            The second half of A2 is also prefixed by      water bird, as indicated by the fish dan- 8 Ajaw 8 Zip/                    ‘U- (though a different sign variant)          gling from the upper hooked beak. (The
   TNA: undesignated                         before an intriguing main sign showing a       same attire is found on the main stone
                                             crested bird consuming a fish. The water       panel of the same pier, but shown in
Precisely ten Tuns (10.0.0) separate the     bird sign has no known reading, but the        front-view.) But there are a few different
first and second date, and fifteen Tuns      darkened banding around the eye strong-        details visible in this bird head to suggest
(15.0.0) fall between the second and         ly suggests its species identification as a    it is not the blue heron of the glyphs
third. The common denominator is five        blue heron, or Ardea herodias (Figure 5).      above, but rather a species of cormorant
Tuns, and all the dates again fall on the    This is followed in turn by the subfix -le.    (mat) commonly found as the main sign
midpoints (2.9.0, 7.9.0, 12.9.0, and                                                        of the toponym Matawil or Matwil, so
                                                spaced dates, 9 Ajaw 18 Tzek, or              likely to be different, being open at one
                                       The accompanying verb             end. This sign appears elsewhere in
                                                phrase at D2a is a slightly damaged           Maya texts, but it is rare and its reading
                                                glyph, consisting of the sign k’a, a sec-     still seems difficult to establish. Perhaps
                                                ond missing element, and a sign resem-        its best-known usage before now was in
                                                bling a twisted or looped cord (I will        the spelling of a name of a particular ser-
                                                refer to it as the “cord” sign simply as a    pent way (animal co-essence) shown on
                                                term of reference). Enough of the glyph       some Classic ceramics where it refers to
                                                survives to allow reconstructing it as k’a-   the draping and braided snake “collar”
                                                ma-“cord,” an important event expres-         worn by a fantastic deer (Schele 1990;
                                                sion cited in two other inscriptions of       Nahm and Grube 1994: 693). A similarly
                                                Temple XIX (Figure 7b). The first two         twisted cloth adornment is worn around
                                                signs spell the transitive root k’am, “to     the neck of two figures on the platform
                                                take or receive something,” and the cord      of Temple XIX (see Figure 6), and also
 Figure 4. “Bird man” glyphs from Palenque
                                                or rope subfix likely indicates the object    on the younger (shorter) Kan B’ahlam II
 and Tonina: (a) from a slab from Temple
 XX at Palenque (drawing by Linda Schele),
                                                of the verb. Such an unmarked verbal          portrayed on the main tablets of the
 and (b) from Tonina, Monument 141 (draw -      form, stripped of temporal and per-
 ing by Peter Mathews).                         son markers, seems a nominalized
                                                form similar in structure to other
                                                impersonal events such as chum
often cited in Palenque’s inscriptions. 3
                                                tu:n, “stone seating,” och k’ak’,
The heavily lidded eyes (visible on the
                                                “fire entering” and k’al tu:n, “stone
stone panel’s view) and the teeth in the
                                                binding.” Like the bird man and
beak are distinctive characteristics of cor-
                                                chum tu:n verbs of the initial two
morants in Maya art, and not at all like
                                                passages, “cord taking”(?) seems to
the details of the heron. I believe that the
                                                serve here as a general descriptive
ritual costume is somehow a reference to
                                                term for the date, as in “9 Ajaw 18
Matwil, the place of Palenque’s mytho-
                                                Tzek (is) the rope taking.”
political origins, as will be discussed fur-
ther in the forthcoming study of the other
                                                Another record of the k’am-“cord”
Temple XIX monuments.
                                                event appears in a block from the
                                                Temple XVIII stucco inscription,
The stucco text continues with the sec-
                                                but spelled somewhat differently       Figure 5. Water bird signs from the stucco
ond date at B2, 6 Ajaw 13
                                                (Figure 7c). Here k’am is the famil- inscription compared to the blue heron, Ardea
Muwan, with its accompanying statement                                                 herodias. Subtle differences among the bird
                                                iar “ajaw-in-hand” logograph,
of a chum tu:n, or “stone seating.”                                                    glyphs may be due to different artisans who craft-
                                                replacing the k’a-ma syllables of
Reading on to D1, we find that this day                                                ed the individual glyphs (drawings by the author).
                                                other examples. Using a picto-
saw the second of the three “heron
                                                graphic convention, the scribe has
events.” The heron glyph itself carries
                                                placed the rope-like element, the
the ‘U- and -le affixes, and the preceding
                                                direct object, within the hand, much as       Cross Group. It is likely that the hiero-
ordinal modifier ‘U-2-TAL-la, for ‘u-
                                                we find in common spellings of the “God glyphic expression k’am and “twisted
cha’-tal, “the second...”. As with the ini-
                                                K-in-hand” accession glyph read k’am          cord” refers to the wearing of this looped
tial section, this second sentence or pas-
                                                k’awil, or “the K’awil taking.”               costume device.
sage ends abruptly without any subject
                                                The “rope” sign somewhat resembles the        The spelling k’a-ma raises an important
                                                “figure eight” logograph TAL, but it is       issue about linguistic variation in the
Block C2 is the third of the evenly
                                                                                              Classic inscriptions. We are accustomed
                                                                                              to reading this “receive” verb in its
                                                                                              expected Ch’olan form ch’am, which has
                                                                                              for several years been the more estab-
                                               Figure 3. The inscription arranged into        lished value of the “ajaw-in-hand.” This
                                               three passages, with structural parallels.     was based originally on an example from
                                                                                              Panel 2 from Piedras Negras, where the
                                                                                              logograph takes the prefix ch’a- and the
                                                                                              suffix -ma as phonetic complements,
                                                                                              clearly indicating the Ch’olan pronuncia-
                                                                                              tion. K’am, however, is the Yukatekan
                                                                                              cognate. The situation is not unique, for
                                                                                              Palenque is unusual for its occasional use
                                                        instances of this heron event or      Period Ending. Evidently ‘Upakal
                                                        action, and it seems that hi-li       K’inich Janhab’ Pakal succeeded
                                                        here is somehow parallel to           K’inich Ahkal Mo’ Nahb’ as king
                                                        those ordinal numbers (see            at some point between these two dates.
                                                        Figure 3). Significantly, hil is an
                                                        intransitive root in Ch’olan          The title B’ah Ch’ok shows us that
                                                        Mayan languages meaning “to           ‘Upakal K’inich was considered the heir
                                                        end, rest, finish” (Kaufman and       to Palenque’s throne, but it is difficult to
                                                        Norman 1983), and in this set-        interpret this given the final date cited in
                                                        ting it probably refers to the        the stucco inscription. 9 Ajaw
                                                        “ending” or “resting” of the          18 Tzek fell within the reign of K’inich
                                                        three-stage ritual process involv-    K’an Joy Chitam, when that king was
                                                        ing the “heron” action. In the        nearing seventy years of age. The man
                                                        stucco inscription from               who would eventually take the name
                                                        Palenque, it would appear that        K’inich Ahkal Mo’ Nahb’ was in
                                                        the act of “cord taking” saw also     his mid-thirties at this time, and would
                                                        the “resting” of the ceremonial       assume the throne about eight years later.
                                                        cycle tied to the half-hotun inter-   It is therefore difficult to see how Upakal
                                                        val of 2.9.0.                         K’inich could be named as a B’ah Ch’ok
                                                                                              at a time when his own predecessor in
                                                         Following the last of the heron      office still had not yet assumed the
                                                         glyphs is the first personal name    throne. It instead seems likely that
                                                         of the stucco inscription, written   Upakal K’inich was the “Principal Heir”
                                                         ‘U-PAKAL-K’INICH ‘Upakal             during the reign of K’inich Ahkal Mo’
                                                         K’inich, “The Sun God’s              Nahb’, when the text was written and
                                                         Shield.” The name takes the title    produced. We know the three dates on
                                                           b’a-ch’o-ko, for B’a(h) Ch’ok,     the stucco panel record retrospective his-
 Figure 6. Left portrait on the Temple XIX platform,       here meaning “Principal Heir.”     tory, but the B’ah Ch’ok title is probably
 west panel (from a preliminary drawing by the author)     Although this person is not        to be considered “contemporary” with
                                                           among the familiar characters      regard to the stucco panel’s later compo-
of Yukatekan spellings in place of                         in Palenque’s history, recent      sition. It is reasonable to suppose that
expected Ch’olan forms. Other examples           suggestions by Martin (1998) and Bernal      Upakal K’inich was the first son of
include zu-ku for zukun, “elder brother”         Romero (1999) have convincingly shown        K’inich Ahkal Mo’ Nahb’, and the
(elsewhere spelled as Ch’olan za-ku,             that ‘Upakal K’inich is the name of a        elder brother (or at least half-brother) of
zakun) and ka-b’a for kab’, “earth” (in          lord who eventually ruled at Palenque        K’inich K’uk’ B’ahlam. K’inich Ahkal
Ch’olan this would be chab’). These              under the royal name ‘Upakal K’inich         Mo’ Nahb’ was thirty-six at the time
words alone do not indicate that                 Janahb’ Pakal (Figure 8) . Being the         of the last date and ceremony recorded in
Palenque was a Yukatekan site, for the           only name in the stucco text, we must        the stucco text, and if ‘Upakal K’inich
overwhelming phonological and morpho- conclude that the portrait on the stucco                was indeed his son, he must have been
logical patterns in Palenque’s inscriptions pier is ‘Upakal K’inich as the heir appar-        no older than an adolescent. The scale of
are decidedly Ch’olan (Houston,                  ent, shown before assuming the throne.       the portrait perhaps indicates his young
Robertson and Stuart, in press). Rather,                                                      age, for it is noticeably smaller than the
such spellings are best seen as subtle         This ruler remains very obscure,
indications of close language contact          documented only from a tablet
between Ch’olan and Yukatekan speakers         fragment from the Palace and in
in the northwest lowlands during Classic       the so-called “K’an Tok Panel”
times, if not earlier. The same connection     excavated from Group XVI. No
is reflected in Chontal, a Ch’olan lan-        accession date is known for
guage, where “earth” is kab’ instead of        ‘Upakal K’inich, but he was in
chab’ (Kaufman and Norman 1984),               office on 8 Ben 16
exactly as indicated in Palenque’s texts.      Kumk’u, a date cited on the K’an
                                               Tok panel for the accession of a
Returning to the stucco text, the second       junior lord under the auspices of
                                                                                      Figure 7. “Cord-taking(?)” events at Palenque: (a)
portion of block D2 is hi-li, which pre-       the Palenque king (Bernal              from the stucco text, (b) from the inscription on the
cedes the third and final example of the       Romero 1999).4 This falls only         Temple XIX platform, blocks E2-E4 (drawings by
heron glyph with its familiar affixes, at      a few years after the last known       the author), (c) a stucco block from Temple XVIII
D3. The preceding passages have already        date from Temple XIX,                  (drawing by Linda Schele).
talked of the “first” and “second”   , when K’inich Ahkal
                                               Mo’ Nahb’ celebrated the
                                                                                                 which is likely to be related conceptually
                                                        Despite such contextual and visu-        to the water bird costume worn by the
                                                        al clues, it is difficult to establish   protagonist, ‘Upakal K’inich. The dates
                                                        a viable reading of the arm rela-        of the three rituals are each spaced 2.9.0
                                                        tionship glyph, if it is in fact dis-    (900 days) apart, and fall over two
                                                        tinct from y-ichnal. In the cases        decades before the dedication date of
                                                        from Palenque and elsewhere, the         Temple XIX. They are therefore retro-
                                                        name written after the arm               spective records of a specific ritual cycle
                                                        expression is of a god or a lord of      involving the would-be heir to the
                                                        higher rank than the youthful            throne, possibly the first son of K’inich
                                                        protagonist, suggesting that, like       Ahkal Mo’ Nahb’, who came to rule
Figure 8. Two citations of the ruler ‘Upakal            y-ichnal, the arm glyph helps to         sometime after his father’s death and
K’inich Janhab’ Pakal: (a) from the             specify who sanctioned, oversaw or               before the accession of his younger
Temple XIX stucco text, and (b) on a frag-      attended to the ritual concerned.                brother, K’inich K’uk’ B’ahlam. The
mentary panel from the Palace (drawing by
                                                                                                 deity GII has some involvement with
Linda Schele)
                                                The name after the arm glyph in the stuc-        these rituals, but it is difficult to know in
image of the standing ruler depicted on         co inscription is, as noted, GII of the          what capacity. The last of the heron
the pier’s stone panel.                         Palenque Triad (D5). Like ‘Upakal                events also involves a curious rite
                                                K’inich, GII bears
Back now to the stucco inscription. In          the designation
the second half of block D4 is a familiar       ch’o-ko, ch’ok,
glyph with a main sign representing a left      “young one,” pre-
arm, ending with -NAL-la. A yi- prefix is       sumably because of his
found on other examples of this “arm”           infant aspect. The inscrip-
glyph, sometimes infixed into the neck          tion closes at D6 with a
area of the main sign, as may be case           “title” or designation for
here. The glyph customarily intercedes          GII based on the sign
between two names, the second often             K’UH, “god,” with two pre-
being a god’s designation, and it seems         fixed signs of unknown
to be some sort of possessed noun or            value. The second
“relationship” glyph (Figure 9).                of these prefixes,
                                                the larger of the
The environment of the arm glyph, along         two, resembles
with the yi- prefix and -NAL ending,            Maya representa-
raise the possibility that it is a variant of   tions of an eye, so
y-ichnal, “together with, in the company        perhaps the title des-
of,” but on closer review this seems a          ignated GII as the “?-eyed
problematic connection. The arm seems           god.” The singling-out of
more thematically restricted than the           GII as the divine participant
widespread y-ichnal, for it regularly           in, or overseer of, the final
appears after the names of children or          of the “heron” events is
young people. For example, on the jamb          extremely interesting, but
inscription of Temple XVIII (Figure 9b)         once more not easy to
it follows the pre-accession name of            explain.
K’inich Ahkal Mo’ Nahb’ as a boy,
and on the Palace Tablet it follows the         Conclusions and
youth name of the preceding king,               Half-Formed
K’inich K’an Joy Chitam (Figure 9c). In         Thoughts
both instances the event is a youth’s cere-
mony perhaps called k’al may, “hoof             In summary, the
binding.” The Temple XIX example pro-           stucco inscription
vides a third case from Palenque where          relates a narrative of
the arm relationship glyph appears with         three evenly spaced
youth or pre-accession rites. It is proba-      rituals, the “first,”
bly no coincidence that the arm sign is         “second,” and “last”     Figure 9. The “arm” relationship glyph with youths’ names:
visually similar to the pose of infants in      of a series spanning     (a) from the Temple XIX stucco text, (b) from the Temple XVIII
Maya art and iconography (Figure 9d), as        five years. All three    jambs, and (c) from the Palace Tablet (drawing by Linda Schele);
we see in the portrait name of GII of the       events are described     (d) a “jaguar baby” glyph from Tikal, Stela 29.
Palenque Triad, given later in block D5.5       by a heron sign,
described as something like “cord tak-                                                      Chitam as a young man, on
ing,” an event mentioned in another text       The stucco panel must be considered in       12 Ajaw 3 Ch’en, many years before his
from Temple XIX in connection with             the context of “pre-accession” rituals       accession (Figure 10). Here the event is
another date, 7 Ajaw 3              involving young kings-to-be, for the         somewhat different, however, written ‘U-
Wayeb’, precisely one K’atun later.            “cord taking” event recorded in the          K’AM-wa CHAN-?, or ‘u-k’am-aw
                                               Temple XIX stucco seems to concern           chan ..?.., “he takes the snake ‘cord’.”
I am inclined to see the glyphs that           young or yet to be established rulers. We    The combination of CHAN and the
immediately follow the first and last          cannot know ‘Upakal K’inich’s age at the     “cord” recalls the imagery on the “ser-
dates in this inscription - the bird man       time of the ritual cycle commemorated        pent deer” way entity mentioned above,
verb and “cord taking” - as structural         (his birth date is unknown), yet there are   and we can perhaps imagine that the
partners to the “stone seating” glyph used     important connections to be drawn            object taken in this ceremony was a
simply to describe the calendrical signifi-    between the dates and events of the stuc-    snake or snake effigy worn around the
cance of the middle date. All would serve      co pier and other known rituals involving    heir’s neck, like on the deer figure.
like-in-kind roles as descriptions of sta-     youngsters. We have already seen, for
tions within the K’atun period, like the       example, that the “cord” sign may specif-    On the Hieroglyphic Jambs of Temple
far more common and familiar “hotun”           ically refer to the looped, almost braid-    XVIII we read that the young K’inich
marker glyphs used to name the quarters        like cloth bands depicted in the costume     ‘Ahkal Mo’ Nahb’ participated in a
of the K’atun. The bird man is found in                                                     pre-accession event on 11
three cases at Palenque and Tonina to                                                       Ajaw 18 Yax, when fifteen years of age,
mark dates that are divisible by 1/8 por-                                                   nearly three decades before his own
tions of the K’atun. The two known                                                          accession to office. Most of the associat-
instances of “cord taking” events (if this                                                  ed text in the upper portion of the south
is the true reading) fall on dates that fall                                                jamb is missing, unfortunately, but the
on 2.9.0, or the initial 1/8 within a                                                       date once more is significant, ending in
K’atun. It is possible that “cord taking”                                                   2.9.0. The final date of the Temple XIX
therefore describes a specific rite associ-                                                 stucco text ( comes one
ated with the first 900 days of a K’atun,                                                   K’atun afterwards. We therefore have
but this remains to be established.                                                         two independent records of royal heirs
At any rate, there is now good reason to                                                    participating in rituals on this chronologi-
believe that the Maya recognized the                                                        cally significant station. One wonders if
1/8th subdivisions of the K’atun as ritual-                                                 perhaps these less important stations of
ly significant, even if these were not so                                                   the K’atun were considered the ritual
routinely commemorated in texts                                                             responsibilities of rulers-in-training.
throughout the Maya area. Joel Skidmore
(personal communication, 2000) has                                                          As noted, the other “cord taking” cited
recently pointed out to me an example                                                       on the Temple XIX platform (
that proves the point very well. The east                                                   is one K’atun later still. Is it possible,
tablet of the Temple of the Inscriptions                                                    then, that the west panel of the platform,
cites the Calendar Round 13 Ajaw 18                                                         with its “youths” draped in braided cloth,
Mak (M7, N7), corresponding to                                                              depicts another pre-accession ritual of, or 7/8ths of the K’atun. The                                                    some sort? This point will have to be
text does not mention any event for this                                                    considered at another time. For now, it is
date; instead, it is a self-evident sort of    Figure 10. Record of a youth ceremony        clear that any effort to understand one of
Period Ending that provides a chronolog-       involving the future king K’inich K’an Joy   the challenging Temple XIX monuments,
ical anchor for the event recorded in the      Chitam, from the Palace Tablet at Palenque   be it the stucco panel, the stone panel, or
next blocks, namely Palenque’s conquest        (drawing by Linda Schele).                   the magnificent platform, must involve a
at the hands of Calakmul on                                                                 deep awareness of the ritual and history                                  of the young K’inich Kan B’ahlam II, as      recorded in the others.
                                               portrayed on the tablets of the Cross
Interestingly, Stela J of Copan presents a     Group. The same type of neck ornament
list of individual Tuns within a K’atun        can be seen on each of the flanking fig-
period, each accompanied by its proper         ures on the west side of the Temple XIX
“designation.” Three of these terms            platform, both of whom are named ch’ok,
describe actions or rituals involving the      “youth, emergent one.” This distinctive
word ch’am or k’am, “take, receive,”           element of ritual dress may be associated
perhaps strengthening the notion that          with youth rituals, therefore.
“cord taking” event is a similar sort of
term used to designate or describe a set       On the Palace Tablet, we read of a “cord
period or sub-division of the K’atun.          taking” rite involving K’inich K’an Joy
References                                  2  This small monument was displayed at
                                            the Museo Arqueológico de Palenque in
BERNAL ROMERO, GUILLERMO                    June, 1999, as part of a special exhibition
1999 Analisis epigrafico del Tablero de     organized for the Tercera Mesa Redonda
K’an Tok, Palenque, Chiapas. Paper pre-     de Palenque. The dates and interpreta-
sented at the Tercera Mesa Redonda de       tions given are based on my inspection of
Palenque. Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico, June   the monument at that time.
27-July 1, 1999.
                                            3  In the Matwil toponym and in personal
1979 Las aves de Yucatan: Nomenclatura      names, the cormorant sign is read MAT
en maya-espanol-ingles-latin. Fondo         (occasionally it is replaced by the sylla-
Editorial de Yucatan, Merida.               bles ma-ta), and the species identifica-
                                            tion is confirmed by the attested word
HOUSTON, STEPHEN D., JOHN                   mach in Yukatek for “cormorant” (Hartig
ROBERTSON and DAVID STUART                  1979). The mythical toponym is spelled
In press: The Language of Classic Maya      in a variety of ways: MAT-la, ma-ta-wi-
Inscriptions. To appear in Current          la, ma-ta-wi, or ma-MAT-wi-la (the last
Anthropology.                               from the recently discovered platform
                                            text from T. XIX). I cannot at present
KAUFMAN, TERRENCE S., and                   explain the -wil ending.
1984 An Outline of Proto-Cholan             4  The K’an Tok panel records a series of
Phonology, Morphology, and Vocabulary.      “junior-level” accessions overseen by
In Phoneticism in Maya Hieroglyphic         Palenque kings over the course of several
Writing, edited by J.S. Justeson and L.     centuries. Bernal Romero (1999) inter-
Campbell, pp. 77-166. Institute of
                                            prets the protagonists as rulers of a sub-
Mesoamerican Studies, Pub. No. 9. Albany,
                                            ordinate site under Palenque’s domain. It
                                            is more likely that the accessions pertain
NAHM, WERNER, and NIKOLAI                   to a sub-royal office or position within
GRUBE                                       Palenque’s local court society.
1994 A Census of Xibalba: A Complete
                                            5 At Piedras Negras, two other examples
Inventory of Way Characters on Maya
Ceramics. In The Maya Vase Book, Volume     of the “left arm” relationship glyph seem
4, pp 686-715. Kerr Associates, New York.   to be related to young people. On Panel
                                            3, it occurs in the main text in a passage
SCHELE, LINDA                               describing an Early Classic ritual that is
1990 A Brief Note on the Name of the        probably depicted on the accompanying
Vision Serpent. In The Maya Vase Book,      scene. At least one figure, standing
Volume 1, pp. 146-148.                      behind the ruler, is a young boy. On the
                                            shells of Burial 5, the twelve-year old
SCHELE, LINDA, and PETER MATH-              “Lady K’atun” is named beside another
EWS                                         example of the “arm” relationship glyph
1979 The Bodega of Palenque, Chiapas,       (here a right arm, it seems), which appar-
Mexico. Dumbarton Oaks, Washington,         ently establishes some connection
                                            between the girl and a woman named in
                                            the next block.
1996 Kings of Stone: A Consideration of
Stelae in Classic Maya Ritual and
Representation. RES 29/30:148-171.


1 A much longer study encompassing all
of the Temple XIX inscriptions is now in
preparation, and will be published sepa-
rately by PARI.

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