The Early Classic king list inscribed on the door lintels of Yaxchilan’s Structure 12 mentions a number of foreign lords and dignitaries, all involved in some way with the inaugurations and reigns of the first ten kings of the Yaxchilan dynasty. The prevailing interpreation today sees these non-local people as war captives, but there is little evidence to support this. Instead, I prefer to see them as names of visiting abassadors to the local court, as had been suggested in earlier analyses of these important texts by Mathews and others.
Among the foreign names on the lintels we find these two identical titles depicting a bird descending through the dotted spiral “cloud” sign (Steve Houston and I deciphered this as MUYAL, “cloud,” back in 1989.). The structure of the inscription leaves little doubt that this “Cloud-Bird” is a previously unidentified emblem glyph. (It occupies the same position as the emblems of Piedras Negras, Bonampak-Lakamha, Lakamtun, and Tikal in neighboring parallel passages from the Structure 12 lintels). The bird’s head moreover shows the ajaw headband, a key confirmation that we here have an emblem glyph. With this final AJAW element the title reads something along the lines of “the ‘Cloud-Bird’ Lord.” I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to the full phonetic reading of the emblem, but it could well incorporate the word muyal. The location of the “Cloud-Bird” polity remains unknown, but it seems to have been an important player in Early Classic Maya history near the Usumacinta River, at least.
On a side note, the very same “Cloud-Bird” appears on the back-rack (paat piik) of a woman portrayed on Dos Pilas, Stela 16. It is interesting that similar back-racks worn by “Holmul Dancers” depicted on Maya vases also incororporate the symbols of mountains as emblematic place names.