Yaxchilan lintel 17

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

A paired sacrifice scene

This limestone lintel is one of a series of three panels commissioned by Bird Jaguar IV for Structure 21 at Yaxchilán and was once set above the right-hand (north-west) doorway of the central chamber.

Lintels 15, 16 and 17 replicate the scenes carved on the three lintels in Structure 23, constructed by Bird Jaguar's father, Shield Jaguar II. In this case, however, the sequence is different. The capture event is flanked by the vision scene (Lintel 15) and the scene represented here.

Bird Jaguar and one of his wives, Lady B'alam Mut, are taking part in a bloodletting ritual. He wears elaborate jade ornaments and a headband with a skull and skeletal snake similar to that worn by Lady K'ab'al Xook on Lintel 25. He is preparing for auto-sacrifice while his wife passes a rope through her tongue to draw blood. Members of the royal families are often depicted performing bloodletting rituals required for accession ceremonies.

The inscription records this ritual, performed eight days after the capture scene represented in Lintel 16.

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More information


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)

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

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


Height: 69.200 cm
Width: 76.200 cm

Museum number

AOA 1886-320


Gift of A.P. Maudslay


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