We all know the ceiba tree so naturalistically represented on vase K1226, but there are a few things to say about the facial motif and other elements shown on the tree’s trunk. What follows is probably obvious to many, but it will hopefully correct a few misconceptions that reappear from time to time in writings about this famous vase.
The face at the base of the ceiba tree, shown frontal-view, is not the same as the “mirror” face we see on the cruciform trees depicted at Palenque, as is often assumed (see Pakal’s sarcophagus lid). Instead — and again this is already known to many — the face is the deity known as the “Patron of Pax,” recognizable by the jaguar paw attached to the top of his ear spool (i.e., there is no jaguar hiding behind the tree, swatting at the alacran). As I showed back in the early 80s, the Pax Patron is a hieroglyphic sign that can be used as the head-variant of TE’, “tree.” The same head marks the base of trees in other representations; K1345 offers a good comparison, with the TE’ in a more conventional profile view.
What may be new to a few out there is the YAX sign just to the left of the tree’s trunk, attached to the TE’ and offering a visual balance to the paw. This is the “iconographic” YAX identical to what we see often on the top if God D’s head, where it helps to indicate his full name Yax Itzamnaaj. On K1226, the elements combine to give an emblematic hieroglyph YAX-TE’, for yaxte’, “ceiba.”
No big deal, but maybe a clarification.