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The Yaxchilan Lintels

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    Am1923,Maud.5

  • Title (series)

    • The Yaxchilan Lintels
  • Description

    Lintel 25: Carved limestone lintel, showing Lady K'ab'al Xook on the bottom right of the panel. Lady Xook is in the hallucinatory stage of the bloodletting ritual. She conjures before her a vision of a Teotihuacan serpent.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 725 (Gallery label)
    • 760
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 121 centimetres
    • Width: 85.5 centimetres
    • Depth: 13.5 centimetres
    • Weight: 231 kilograms
  • Curator's comments

    Structure 23 has particular significance since this was the first building to be constructed after a gap of 150 years in the dynastic history of Yaxchilan. It seems that the series of lintels was intended to convey a special message of the re-foundation of the site. Shield Jaguar's building programme throughout the city may have been an attempt to reinforce his lineage and his right to rulership.Lintel 25. One of a series of three panels from Structure 23 at Yaxchilan originally set above the central doorway. The building is dedicated to Shield Jaguar II's wife, Lady K'ab'al Xook, shown on the bottom right of the panel, conjuring a vision of a Teotihuacan serpent. Some scholars suggest that the serpent on this lintel, and elsewhere, are depictions of an ancestral spirit or founder of the kingdom. The identity of the figure coming out of the serpent's jaws is ambiguous. The inscription names the protagonist as Shield Jaguar II.

    The ritual is conducted to commemorate the accession of Shield Jaguar II to the throne. The inscription is reversed, as if to be read in a mirror. This is not common and its true significance is not known.

    Bibliography:
    L. Schele & M.E. Miller, 'The Blood of Kings' (London, Thames & Hudson, 1986)
    C. Tate, 'Yaxchilan, The Design of a Maya Ceremonial City' (University of Texas Press, 1992)
    C. McEwan, 'Ancient Mexico in the British Museum' (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)
    S. Martin and N. Grube, 'Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens; Deciphering the Dynasties of the Ancient Maya' (Thames & Hudson, 2000)

    More 

  • Bibliography

    • McEwan 1994 p. 45 (Includes line drawing) bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G27

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:
    1990 20 Oct-9 Dec, Japan, Tokyo, Setagaya Art Museum, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.184
    1991 5 Jan-20 Feb, Japan, Yamaguchi, Prefectural Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.184
    1991 9 Mar-7 May, Japan, Osaka, National Museum of Art, Treasures of the British Museum, cat. no.184
    2010 27 March - 18 July, Salem, Peabody Essex Museum, 'Fiery Pool, The Maya and the Mythic Sea'
    2010 29 August - 2011, 2 January, Texas, Kimbell Art Museum, 'Fiery Pool, The Maya and the Mythic Sea'
    2011 13 February - 18 May, Saint Louis Art Museum, 'Fiery Pool, The Maya and the Mythic Sea'

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1923

  • Department

    Africa, Oceania & the Americas

  • Registration number

    Am1923,Maud.5

  • Additional IDs

    • 1886 316 (South Kensington Museum No. (Now V&A))
    • AOA Ethno 1886-316 (Compass number)
Lintel 25. One of a series of three panels from Structure 23 at Yaxchilan originally set above the central doorway. The building is dedicated to Shield Jaguar II's wife, Lady K'ab'al Xook shown on the bottom right of the panel. Lady Xook is in the hallucinatory stage of the bloodletting ritual. She conjures before her a vision of a Teotihuacan serpent. Some scholars suggest that the serpent on this lintel, and elsewhere, are depictions of an ancestral spirit or founder of the kingdom. The identity of the figure coming out of the serpent's jaws is ambiguous. The inscription names the protagonist as Shield Jaguar II.    The ritual is conducted to commemorate the accession of Shield Jaguar II to the throne. The inscription is reversed, as if to be read in a mirror. This is not common and its true significance is not known.

Lintel 25. One of a series of three panels from Structure 23 at Yaxchilan originally set above the central doorway. The building is dedicated to Shield Jaguar II's wife, Lady K'ab'al Xook shown on the bottom right of the panel. Lady Xook is in the hallucinatory stage of the bloodletting ritual. She conjures before her a vision of a Teotihuacan serpent. Some scholars suggest that the serpent on this lintel, and elsewhere, are depictions of an ancestral spirit or founder of the kingdom. The identity of the figure coming out of the serpent's jaws is ambiguous. The inscription names the protagonist as Shield Jaguar II. The ritual is conducted to commemorate the accession of Shield Jaguar II to the throne. The inscription is reversed, as if to be read in a mirror. This is not common and its true significance is not known.

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