|K'an Joy Chitam I is one of the better documented early rulers of Palenque. He was born in AD 490, when his predecessor Akul Mo' Nab' I was 24, and it is very likely that he was the son of Akul Mo' Nab' I. Nevertheless, after Akul Mo' Nab' I's death in AD 524, over four years passed before K'an Joy Chitam I assumed the throne of Palenque (in AD 529). The reason for this lengthy interregnum—the longest in Palenque's history—is not known. By this time he was almost 39 years old, and he reigned for a further 36 years, dying at the ripe old age of 74 in AD 565. |
One interesting reference to K'an Joy Chitam I is in the Tablet of the Sun, where we are told that in AD 496, when aged six, he was the protagonist of an event that has long been interpreted as his designation as heir to the throne of Palenque. The passage concludes by saying that the ceremony took place in the old royal location of Toktan, even though six years earlier the new royal precinct of Lakamha' had been dedicated (see under Akul Mo' Nab' I).
Most of the other references to K'an Joy Chitam I are period-ending dates that he celebrated. According to the East Tablet of the Temple of the Inscriptions, he made offerings to the gods on 22.214.171.124.0, 126.96.36.199.0, and 188.8.131.52.0 (AD 534, 554, and 564, respectively). In addition, the newly discovered West Tablet of the Bench in Temple XIX at Palenque records that K'an Joy Chitam I dedicated an okib' in AD 561. There is one other reference to "K'an Joy Chitam" on a re-used stone in Group I/II, to the north of the North Group at Palenque. It is not clear whether this is a reference to K'an Joy Chitam I or to his later namesake K'inich K'an Joy Chitam II.
A portrait of K'an Joy Chitam I is carved on the West Side of the Sarcophagus in the tomb below the Temple of the Inscriptions.
PAL: Temple of the Inscriptions,
Sarcophagus Lid Edge: 19b
Drawing by Merle Greene Robertson
(Greene Robertson 1983: Figure 170)