Presentation of Captives to a Maya Ruler
Mexico, Usumacinta River Valley, Maya culture
Late Classic period (A.D. 600–900)
c. A.D. 785
Limestone with traces of paint
45 3/8 x 35 in. (115.3 x 88.9 cm)
Currently On View
This carved relief probably served as a wall panel inside a Maya building or as a lintel over an entrance. It depicts the presentation of captives in a palace throne room, indicated by swag curtains at the top of the panel. The five figures are the Yaxchilan king, seated at top left, his sahal (a military chief) on the right, and three bound captives in the lower left. The glyphic text, which gives a date of 23 August 783, records the capture of a lord and a sacrificial bloodletting three days later under the auspices of the king. The three prisoners may be scribes; the one in front holds a “stick-bundle” associated with Maya scribes, and all three wear headdresses with hun (book) knots. All figures but the leftmost captive are identified by name. The inscription on the throne front, of special interest, is carved with the king’s name and titles; the glyphs are inscribed in reverse order, from right to left. The name of the artist responsible for sculpting the relief appears on the vertical panel of four glyphs under the sahal’s outstretched arm. Signed works of Maya art are rare, and the signature on this relief suggests that it was considered of great value in its time.