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The Missing Heir at Yaxchilán: Literary Analysis of a Maya Historical Puzzle

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

J. Kathryn Josserand*
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-7772

Abstract

The site of Yaxchilán (Chiapas, Mexico) is one of the best-known Classic Maya cities, despite relatively little stratigraphic excavation. The dynastic history of the site is recorded in numerous legible inscriptions and was worked out more than 30 years ago by Tatiana Proskouriakoff (1963, 1964) in her epoch-making historical interpretations. A historical puzzle left by Proskouriakoff and later investigators is a 10-year gap (A.D. 742-752) between the death of a Late Classic king, Shield Jaguar II, and the accession of his successor and son, Bird Jaguar IV. Various explanations have been offered for this interregnum, often suggesting a rival heir to the throne, as Bird Jaguar was the son of his father's late, secondary, foreign wife. Nevertheless, no evidence has been put forth concerning a child by the king and his earlier, primary wife, a woman known as Lady Xok. This paper reexamines the epigraphic evidence by applying what is now known about Classic Maya grammar and the canons of Classic Maya literature to an inscription on the house of Lady Xok. Viewed from this perspective, a well-known inscription yields the name of the missing heir, and other evidence suggests the nature of his fate and the reason he did not take the throne.

Resumen

Resumen

La historia del sitio maya clásico de Yaxchilán (Chiapas, México) se conoce más por sus numerosas inscripciones que por las pocas excavaciones que se han hecho. En los primeros estudios sobre historia basados en la epigrafía, Tatiana Proskouriakoff (1963, 1964) delineó la secuencia de gobernantes. Un enigma dejado por Proskouriakoff y otros investigadores posteriores es un período de diez años (742-752 d. C.) entre la muerte de un gobernante del Clásico Tardío, Escudo Jaguar II, y la entronización de su hijo y sucesor, Pájaro Jaguar IV. Se han propuesto varias explicaciones basadas en la hipótesis de un sucesor rival, ya que Pájaro Jaguar fue hijo de Escudo Jaguar y una esposa, secundaria y extranjera. Sin embargo, tales hipótesis no han encontrado apoyo en evidencia concreta de un hijo de la esposa principal, la Señora Xok. Este trabajo vuelve a analizar la evidencia epigráfica, aplicando los modelos recientemente desarrollados sobre la gramática de la lengua clásica maya y los cánones de su literatura. Vista de esta perspectiva, una inscripción bien conocida rinde el nombre del sucesor perdido, mientras otra evidencia sugiere cuál fue su destino, y por qué no asumió al poder.

Type
Reports
Copyright
Copyright © Society for American Archaeology 2007

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References

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