The Yaxchilán Lintels

Yaxchilán is located on the south bank of the Usumacinta River, in Chiapas, Mexico. It was a significant Maya centre during the Classic period (AD 250-900) and a number of its buildings stand to this day. Many of the exteriors had elaborate decorations, but it is the carved stone lintels above their doorways which have made this site famous. These lintels, commissioned by the rulers of the city, provide a lengthy dynastic record in both text and image.

Yaxchilán was founded in the Early Classic period (AD 250-600) but only underwent rapid growth in the Late Classic period (AD 600-800), under the reigns of Shield Jaguar II and his son Bird Jaguar IV.

Lintels 24, 25 and 26, set above the three doorways of Structure 23, depict a series of rituals performed by Shield Jaguar II and his wife. Structure 21, commissioned by Bird Jaguar IV, housed lintels 15, 16 and 17. Bird Jaguar was Yaxchilán's most prolific builder and at least a dozen major structures were initiated or remodelled during his reign.

These lintels were removed at A.P. Maudslay's request at the end of the nineteenth century.

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