Maya, 600-900 AD
The British Museum
“This limestone lintel is one of a series of three panels from Structure 23 at Yaxchilán and was originally set above the central doorway.
The building is dedicated to Shield Jaguar II’s wife, Lady K’ab’al Xook. It has particular significance since this was the first building to be constructed after a gap of over 150 years in the dynastic history of the city. It seems that the series of lintels was intended to convey a special message of the re-foundation of the site. Indeed, Shield Jaguar’s building programme throughout the city may have been an attempt to reinforce his lineage and his right to rulership.
Lady Xook, on the bottom right of the panel, 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.”