Maya relief of royal blood-letting (Yaxchilan lintel 24)

Mexico, about AD 600-900

This limestone lintel, considered one of the masterpieces of Maya art, is one of a series of three panels from Structure 23 at Yaxchilán, where it was set above the left (south-east) doorway.

Lintels 24 and 25, removed at Maudslay's request at the end of the nineteenth century, are on permanent display in the British Museum's Mexican Gallery. Lintel 26, the third in the series, is in the Museo Nacional de Antropología, in Mexico City.

The scene represents a bloodletting ritual performed by the king of Yaxchilán, Shield Jaguar the Great (681-742), and his wife, Lady K'ab'al Xook (Itzamnaaj Bahlen III). The king holds a flaming torch over his wife, who is pulling a thorny rope through her tongue. Scrolls of blood can be seen around her mouth.

The first two glyphs in the text at the top of the lintel indicate the event and the date on which it took place, 24 October, AD 709 (5 Eb, 15 Mak in the maya calendar).

The last glyph represents the Emblem Glyph (that is, the city name in Maya hierolglyphs) of Yaxchilán. The text on the left of the panel contains the name and titles of Lady K'ab'al Xook.

The lintel has traces of Maya blue, turquoise and red pigment.


Yaxchilán

A significant Maya centre, Yaxchilán is located on the south bank of the Usumacinta River, in Chiapas, Mexico. It largely dates to the Classic period (AD 250-900) and a number of its buildings are still standing.

lintel

Yaxchilán lintels

The carved stone lintels found above doorways have made this site famous. Commissioned by rulers of the city, the lintels area a lengthy dynastic record.

Read the full article

Video

Alfred P Maudslay

Maudslay carried out eight expeditions to the Maya areas of modern Central America between 1881 and 1894, visiting Copán, Quirigua, Yaxchilán, Chichen Itza and Palenque.

Read the full article


The Maya

Video

The Maya civilization (AD 300-900) was one of the most sophisticated in the pre-Columbian Americas and extended from Mexico across Guatemala, Belize and the western parts of Honduras and El Salvador.

Maya world culture

Maya glyphs


Find in the collection online


Maya relief of royal blood-letting (Yaxchilán lintel 24)

Yaxchilán lintel 24

 

More information

Bibliography

L. Schele and M.E. Miller, The blood of kings (London, Thames & Hudson, 1986)

C. Tate, Yaxchilan: the design of a May (University of Texas Press, 1992)

S. Martin and N. Grube, Chronicle of the Maya kings an (Thames and Hudson, 2000)

C. McEwan, Ancient Mexico in the British (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)

Dimensions

From Yaxchilán
Maya, Late Classic period (AD 600-900)

 

Height: 109 cm
Width: 78 cm
Depth: 6 cm

 

Museum number

AOA 1886-317

not on found on MERLIN

 

Gift of A.P. Maudslay

Location

Find in the collection online

51.

Maya relief of royal blood-letting

Listen now

Related products

Book

A History of the World in 100 objects

 
By Neil MacGregor

Accompanies the BBC Radio 4 series




This object features in A History of the World in 100 objects


Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore