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Relief Panel with Seated Lord

Maya, Late Classic
746 CE
69.85 cm x 167.64 cm x 7 cm (27 1/2 in. x 66 in. x 2 3/4 in.)

On view


He of White Lizard (aj sak teleech) takes center stage on this elegant panel from the site of Lacanha in southern Mexico. He is richly bejeweled with a necklace of large beads, earspools, a nose bead, wristlets, and anklets made of rectangular pieces that may represent cut shell. His hair is tied back and held in multiple strands decorated with beads or symbols for jade, and he wears an elaborate headdress with long feathers hanging at the back. His small mustache and goatee are characteristic of the Lacanha region, while the small lump on his brow may be a decorative scar, reminiscent of some seen on figurines in the Jaina style.

The glyphic text identifies this personage as an important lord who ruled the city of Lacanha. He is given three different titles—sajal (lord), anab (having to do with craftsmanship), and cha’jom (someone who scatters incense)—possibly a sign that he held several overlapping roles or offices. At the time of carving, he was a vassal of Knot-Eye Jaguar, king of the Bonampak-Lacanha kingdom. However, he may have acceded to this throne himself at a later date, as other sources indicate that his son was ruler of the kingdom after 776. Such changing fortunes were common in the eighth and ninth centuries, when the southern Maya lowlands were engulfed in a pattern of power negotiations, realignments, intense warfare, and diminishing resources, commonly called the “collapse.”

In this scene, He of White Lizard sits on a throne that has all the trappings of an earth monster. In his arms, he holds a long ceremonial bar that ends on either side with images of the god K’awiil. He performs a ritual to conjure K’awiil, who emerges from the Underworld in his guise associated with fertility and growing maize. An initial series date on the right side of the panel reads, or 4 June 746.

Benson, Elizabeth P. 1963 Handbook of the Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art. Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, D.C., p. 11, cat. 46.

Bühl, Gudrun (ED.) 2008 Dumbarton Oaks: The Collections. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, D.C., p. 210-211.

Coe, Michael D. 1984 The Maya. 3rd ed. Ancient Peoples and Places. Thames and Hudson, New York. p. 110-111, fig. 85.

Coe, Michael D. 1987 The Maya. 4th fully rev. ed. Ancient Peoples and Places. Thames and Hudson, New York. p. 118-119, fig. 86.

Coe, Michael D. 1993 The Maya. 5th, fully rev. and expand ed. Ancient Peoples and Places. Thames and Hudson, New York. p. 118, fig. 82.

Coe, Michael D. and Elizabeth P. Benson 1966
Three Maya Relief Panels at Dumbarton Oaks. Studies in Pre-Columbian Art & Archaeology; No. 2. Dumbarton Oaks Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, D.C., p. 26-35, fig. 9, 10, 11, 12.

Cordan, Wolfgang 1959 Geheimnis Im Urwald: Entdeckungsfahrten Auf Den Spuren Der Mayas. 1. Aufl. ed. E. Diederichs Verlag, Düsseldorf-Köln. p. 208-212, pl. 57, jacket.

Cordan, Wolfgang 1964
Secret of the Forest: On the Track of Maya Temples. [1st in the U. S.] ed. Doubleday, Garden City, N.Y., p. 185-194, pl. 35-36.

Dütting, Dieter 1969 Remarks on the Inscription of Kuná-Lacanhá Lintel 1. In Verhandlungen Des Xxxviii. Internationalen Amerikanistenkongresses, Stuttgart-München, 12. Bis 18. August, 196
8, pp. 201-208. K. Renner, München. p. 201-208.

Dütting, Dieter 1970 On the Inscription and Iconography of Kuná-Lacanhá Lintel 1. Zeitschrift für Ethnologie 95 (2):196-219. p. 215, fig. 1.

Dütting, Dieter 1981 Zum Charakter Der Maya-Schrift Und Den Schwierigkeiten Ihrer Entzifferung. Mexicon 3 (3):45-48. fig. 1, 2, 3.

Fuente, Beatriz de la and Leticia Staines Cicero 1995 La Pintura Mural Prehispánica En México. 1. ed. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, México, D.F. vol. II, p. 273, 278, fig. 19.

Gifford, James C. (ED.) 1968 Cerámica De Cultura Maya. No. 5. Department of Anthropology, Temple University, Philadelphia. cover.

Krempel, Guido, Sebastian Matteo and Erik Boot 2014 An Unpublished Panel Fragment in the Collection of Fundación La Ruta Maya, Guatemala City.
Mexicon 36 (1):2-6. p. 2-6, fig. 4, 5a, 6.

Masuda, Yoshio 1981
Kodai Amerika No Isan. Shinch?sha Kodai Bijutsukan ; 14. Kabushiki Kaisha Shinch?sha, Tokyo. pl. 40.

Mathews, Peter 1980 Notes on the Dynastic Sequence of Bonampak, Part I. In Third Palenque Round Table, 1978 - Part 2: Proceedings of the Tercera Mesa Redonda De Palenque, June 11-18, 1978, Merle Greene Robertson, ed., pp. 60-73. Texas Pan American Series. University of Texas Press, Austin. p. 60-73.

Miller, Mary Ellen 1984 Four Maya Reliefs.
Apollo CXIX (266):17-20. p. 17-20, fig. 4-5.

Miller, Mary Ellen 1986
The Murals of Bonampak. Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J., p. 20, 121, 125, fig. 50, footnote 2.

Miller, Mary Ellen and Simon Martin 2004 Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya. Thames & Hudson, New York. p. 80-81, pl. 34.

Pillsbury, Joanne, Miriam Doutriaux, Reiko Ishihara-Brito and Alexandre Tokovinine (EDS.) 2012 Ancient Maya Art at Dumbarton Oaks. Pre-Columbian Art at Dumbarton Oaks, Number 4. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, D.C., p. 58-67, pl. 3, fig. 28, 29, 31a.

Proskouriakoff, Tatiana 1956 Notes and News: Middle America. American Antiquity 22 (2):223. p. 223.

Robicsek, Francis 1978
The Smoking Gods: Tobacco in Maya Art, History, and Religion. 1st ed. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. p. 94, fig. 108.

Schaffer, Anne-Louise 1991 The Maya Posture of "Royal Ease"
. In Sixth Palenque Round Table, 1986, Virginia M. Fields, ed., pp. 203-216. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. fig. 4.

Stuart, David 1993 Historical Inscriptions and the Maya Collapse. In
Lowland Maya Civilization in the Eighth Century A.D, Jeremy A. Sabloff and John S. Henderson, eds., pp. 321-354. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collections, Washington, D.C., p. 330, fig. 4.

Thompson, John Eric Sidney 1962 A Catalog of Maya Hieroglyphs. 1st ed. The Civilization of the American Indian Series, V. 62. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. several glyphs published.

Exhibition History
"Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya", National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, 4/4 - 7/25/2004.

Acquisition History
Purchased from John A. Stokes Jr., New York (dealer), by Robert Woods Bliss, 1960.

Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art, Washington, DC, 1960-1962.

Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Pre-Columbian Collection, Washington, DC.

Anthropomorphic | Glyphs | Mayas | Staffs