Detail View: The AMICA Library: Wall panel depicting Na-Bolon-K'an in ritual dress

AMICA Library Year: 
Object Type: 
Creator Nationality: 
Mexico, southern Maya lowlands, state of Tabasco, PomonĂ¡, Maya culture
Creator Name-CRT: 
Mexico, southern Maya lowlands, state of Tabasco, PomonĂ¡, Maya culture
Wall panel depicting Na-Bolon-K'an in ritual dress
Full View
Creation Date: 
Late Classic period, c. A.D. 790
Creation Start Date: 
Creation End Date: 
Materials and Techniques: 
Limestone, stucco and paint
Overall: 86 3/4 x 30 1/4 x 6 in. (220.35 x 76.83 x 15.24 cm.)
AMICA Contributor: 
Dallas Museum of Art
Owner Location: 
Dallas, Texas, USA
ID Number: 
Credit Line: 
Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. James H. Clark
Maya stone sculpture often took the form of freestanding vertical monuments (stelae) erected in plazas; circular altars or pedestals; and a variety of low-relief carvings used in architectural contexts as lintels and wall panels. These forms have in common the integration of figural images and hieroglyphic texts. The figures usually represent the principal participants in a ritual event, while the text records the name of the subject depicted, the nature of the event, and the date on which it occurred.The protagonist of the Dallas wall panel is a woman, and in characteristic Maya style, the emphasis is on ritual regalia rather than a faithful likeness of the individual. The primary costume elements are consistent with depictions of elite women on other Classic period monuments: symbol-laden headdress, beaded circular neckpiece, shell belt ornament (fragmentary here), openwork skirt of tubular and spherical beads (probably jadeite), and scepter. In the brief, undated hieroglyphic text, two glyphs at the top record the action being performed, the nature of which is uncertain, while the other glyphs provide titles and names. The fifth glyph from the bottom is the most easily deciphered. The profile head is an honorific title for women, which may be read as "na." The circular element with an interior cross represents "k'an," which signifies preciousness and often refers to jade and shell, from which jewelry is made. The horizontal bar and dour dots indicate the number nine, "bolon," which has connotations of the uncontaminated and superlative. The noble woman's name is Na-Bolon-K'an, or Lady Nine Precious"Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection," page 190We know this object to be a wall panel for the following reasons: first, the back of the panel was cut in ancient times with stone tools, as was the lower edge. Second, the panel was never "thinned" from a larger slab (stela) using modern tools. Therefore, this is its original thickness and length. It is too thin and has an insufficient "butt" to have been a freestanding stela. Third, the quantity of stucco and paint remaining on the panel suggests that it was protected by architecture. Wall panels of this size are known from the Palenque-Xupa-Jonuta region of Chiapas and Tabasco. They were placed on the door jambs and front walls of sanctuaries within larger structures and, like this piece, are extraordinarily well preserved. (20 March 1991)
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