Wall panel depicting Ix K'an Bolon ("Lady Yellow Nine") in ritual dress

CULTURE:
Maya
DATE:
790 CE
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General Description

Monumental Maya stone sculpture took the form of free-standing stela and plaza altars, or architectural door lintels and wall panels. The sculptures often combine an elaborate figural scene with hieroglyphic texts, which may appear both outside of and embedded within the figuration. These texts often record the subject’s name and event, as well as its celebrated date within the Maya calendar system.

The low-relief sculpture represents a Maya elite woman adorned in ritual regalia. The text identifies her as Ix K’an Bolon, or Lady Yellow Nine (or Lady Precious Nine). She is dressed in an elaborate feather headdress, beaded collar, and open-work jade-bead skirt. The skirt refers to images of the Maize god and renders Lady K’an Bolon in the guise of a goddess, identified in the text. Ix K’an Bolon carries a scepter that represents K’awil (or God K), referencing her ruling status.

The remains of blue and red paint suggest that the sculpture once lined a building wall or door jamb; this placement protected the panel from rain and erosion. Represented in profile, Ix K’an Bolon likely faced in toward an entranceway, paired with an image on the opposing side. The latter may have been her husband, K’inich Kuch Bahlam, who was defeated by Piedras Negras in 792 CE. In addition to identifying Lady K’an Bolon, the text cites her role as “she who opens the earth at Chak Ich’aak Kab Ek’ ,” referring to the establishment of Pomona through its ancient name of “Red-Claw-Earth-Star.” [1]

[1] Current translation of the text courtesy of David Stuart, University of Texas at Austin.

Excerpt from

Kimberly L. Jones, PhD, DMA unpublished material, 2014.

Fun Facts

  • The back of the panel was cut in ancient times with stone tools, as was the lower edge. The panel was never "thinned" from a larger slab (stela) using modern tools. Therefore, this is its original thickness and length. It is too thin and has an insufficient "butt" to have been a freestanding stela. The quantity of stucco and paint remaining on the panel suggests that it was protected by architecture. Wall panels of this size are known from the Palenque-Xupa-Jonuta region of Chiapas and Tabasco. They were placed on the door jambs and front walls of sanctuaries within larger structures and, like this piece, are extraordinarily well preserved.

  • Full translation of the text courtesy of David Stuart, UT Austin: The image of, avatar?, ? Woman, god, Lady Yellow-Nine / Lady Precious Nine, she who, opens, earth (“settles a site”), at Chak Ich’aak Kab Ek (at Red-Claw-Earth-Star / Pomona) [U-BAAH-li (ubaahil), a-AHN (ahn), ?-IXIK (? Ixik), _K’UH (k’uh), _IX-K’AN BOLON (Ix K’an Bolon), ha-I (ha’i), PAS-wi (paswi), ka-ba (kab), CHAK-ICH’AAK-KAB-EK’].