Link to enlarge Masculine head from Palenque Chiapas after Michel Zabé WHO'S WHO IN THE CLASSIC MAYA WORLD
Peter Mathews

Classic Maya Names: Captives

The most poignant depictions of Classic Maya individuals are almost invariably the captives. They are portrayed beneath the feet of triumphant rulers, or kneeling, bound, by his side. Usually they are bound with ropes, and most often they are naked or nearly so. Commonly they are depicted with costume elements that mark them for sacrifice. In some cases they are shown in the act of being captured, usually by having their hair grabbed by their captor.

Usually, captive portraits are accompanied with glyphs that identify them (although sometimes even that dignity is not accorded them and the portrait is anonymous). Most often, the accompanying glyphic caption is (we presume) the captive's name glyph. Occasionally, however, the captive is referred to only by a reference to the place from whence he came. In addition, names could be modified upon the capture of an individual. Generally, the modification involved a 'demotion' or a 'generalization' that had the effect of diluting the captured individual's prestige. No doubt this was part of the concerted ritual humiliation that followed a battle and often preceded the sacrifice of the captive.

Captives generally do not have honorific titles recorded in their name captions. The aim of the record seems to have been to name the captive (perhaps if he was deemed important enough), in order to show how great the captor was, but at the same time to strip the captive of any noble titles and honorifics, just as their portraits show them stripped of their elite costumes. For example, when the Palenque king K'inich Joy Chitam II was captured by his enemy K'inich B'aknal Chak of Tonina, he was portrayed as a captive at the latter site. His portrait is curiously ambiguous: he still wears his jade royal diadem, and a simple necklace of jade beads, but he wears sacrificial clothing and ear ornaments and his arms are bound with rope. His name is carved on his thigh, but it is recorded simply as "Joy Chitam", without the honorific prefix K'inich, 'Sun-faced'. The last glyph is the Palenque emblem glyph, B'akal Ajaw, 'Lord of the B'ak polity', but again the customary honorific prefix (K'uhul, 'Divine'), has been left out. In other cases, references to individuals on the losing side can involve an even more dramatic 'demotion'. At Dos Pilas the defeated king of Tikal, Nun U Jol Chak, is on one occasion referred to as 'the Tikal-place [person]'. At Tonina, captives who were subordinate nobles from the Palenque kingdom are referred to as vassal lords of 'The Ballplayer' –almost certainly a (contemptuous) reference to the contemporary Palenque king, K'inich Kan B'alam II.

When it comes to lower-ranking captives, we basically have two naming patterns. Many are apparently referred to by their personal names, but some captives are simply named Aj ..., 'he of ...'-in other words giving their provenance but not their personal name.

In some parts of the Classic Maya World, captors incorporated in their name phrases information about their captives. This could be done in two ways. In some cases, rulers would include the name of their captive their own extended name phrase. This involved the use of an expression called the 'captor of ...' title; it was first identified by Tatiana Proskouriakoff (1963:152ff). The 'captor of' expression comes in two glyphs. The first probably reads u chan, and can be translated as 'the guardian of'. The second glyph is the name of the captive. This can best be shown by the example of "Jewelled Skull", a captive of the great Yaxchilan king Yaxun B'alam IV. On Lintel 8 of Yaxchilan, Yaxun B'alam IV is shown in the act of capturing "Jewelled Skull", on (AD 755). In subsequent monuments, Yaxun B'alam IV very often included 'captor of "Jewelled Skull"' among his titles: an example can be seen in Yaxchilan Lintel 3, which contains the date (AD 756). There are even anachronistic references to the capture: Lintel 1 of Yaxchilan also records Yaxun B'alam IV as the 'captor of "Jewelled Skull"', despite the fact that the recorded date is (AD 752)-three years before the capture! Lintel 1, however, was carved (along with Lintels 2 and 3) around (AD 757) or later.

A second way in which captives could be incorporated in the name phrases of their captors is in another title, referred to as the 'count of captives'. This title is composed of three elements: the first is Aj 'he of ...'; the second is a number; and the third is B'ak, 'captive[s]'. The whole title, then, can be translated 'He of # Captives', and explicitly refers to the number of captives taken by the individual in his military career. The highest number of captives recorded in this title is 20 or possibly 21, recorded for Yaxun B'alam IV of Yaxchilan. In at least one instance the recorded number of captives can be seen to grow: Yaxun B'alam IV's son and successor, Itzamnaj B'alam IV, is recorded as 'He of 15 Captives' but also-once in a posthumous text-as an 'He of 16 Captives'.

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