An Update on the Tonina Captives 1

The latest issue of Arqueologia Mexicana has an article by Juan Yadeun in which he illustrates the two recently unearthed prisoner sculptures mentioned in the previous post. The printed version of the article includes this reasonably good photograph of the more damaged of the two sculptures, which was difficult to see in the previously available images.

Photograph of unnumbered Tonina sculpture (from Yadeun 2011)

The text here is shorter and simpler than on its better preserved partner, with four glyphs on the front giving the captive’s name and place title. Let’s begin with the clearest two glyphs at the bottom, where we have a place name familiar from texts at Tonina and well beyond. This consists of a rabbit element (p’e?? — it’s reading remains doubtful) and a reptile-like critter, perhaps a turtle or toad (e?), followed by a clear TUUN-ni in the final block. This same grouping appears with some slight variations in a handful of other Tonina texts as a place name in connection with defeated opponents, so it’s appearance here isn’t too terribly surprising (see Mon. 91). Reading backwards to the second glyph of the text, more or less over the prisoner’s navel, we have the “flaming ak’bal” variant of the agentive prefix AJ- identified by Marc Zender some years ago (Zender 2005). These three glyphs taken in total amount to a toponymic title for the prisoner, AJ ?-e? TUUN-ni, “He of ? Tuun.” There’s some suggestive evidence that this “Rabbit Stone” place (as it’s sometimes called in the epigraphic literature, though not as a literal translation) can be equated with the small ruins of La Mar located near the Usumacinta River, which for much of the Late Classic was a secondary center allied to the court of Piedras Negras.

The top-most glyph over the captive’s chest, though damaged, is surely his personal name. Although it remains a little murky in the photo. I think it likely to be that of a prisoner otherwise familiar in other Tonina texts whose name is spelled 4-ma-su, possibly for Chan Maas, “Four Crickets(?)” (ancient Maya personal names can sometimes be very odd-sounding; I’m reminded of a somewhat similar and bizzare name cited at Piedras Negras, Chan Chiwoj, “Four Tarantulas”!). Chan Maas appears also on Monuments 72 and 84, and in the latter case also in association with the “Rabbit Stone” toponym.

Monument 84 states he was captured on the day 8 K’an, which may correspond to 9.13.1.0.4 8 K’an 7 Woh, or March 12, 693 AD (this is cited as an important capture date on another Tonina monument). This falls only a few months after the celebrated capture of the Palenque nobleman named Buk’ ?, as discussed in the previous post, who is portrayed on the better preserved companion sculpture from the Tonina ballcourt.

So we have in the second bound warrior sculpture another celebrated captive from the reign of K’inich Baaknal Chahk. The ballcourt commissioned and dedicated by this ruler in 696 was apparently covered in these powerful images and texts, many if not all documenting his recent military exploits against different enemies to the north and northwest. It’s important to stress, as before, that far distant Copan was not among them.

REFERENCES CITED

Yadeun Angulo, Juan. 2011. K’inich Baak Nal Chaak (Resplandeciente Señor de la Lluvia y el Inframundo) (652 -707 d.C.). Arqueología Mexicana vol. XIX, num. 110, pp. 52-57.

Zener, Marc. 2005. ‘Flaming Akbal’ and the Glyphic Representation of the aj-Agentive Prefix. The PARI Journal 5(3):8-10. Electronic version.

One comment

  1. “The top-most glyph over the captive’s chest, though damaged, is surely his personal name. Although it remains a little murky in the photo. I think it likely to be that of a prisoner otherwise familiar in other Tonina texts whose name is spelled 4-ma-su, possibly for Chan Maas, “Four Crickets(?)” (ancient Maya personal names can sometimes be very odd-sounding; I’m reminded of a somewhat similar and bizzare name cited at Piedras Negras, Chan Chiwoj, “Four Tarantulas”!). Chan Maas appears also on Monuments 72 and 84, and in the latter case also in association with the “Rabbit Stone” toponym.”

    The Tarantula is spider-female. The Weaver (male spiders do not weave webs). She weaves her web in the earth or underground (as female tarantulas actually do) so, methaporically, she is earth-female, the one who weaves the snare that entraps or captivates and makes prisoners of the spirits of the dead within the underworld. The Imagery or Form of the Tarantula is the sign representing, the one who weaves the snare. The number Four represents, the four directions indicating, all over or everywhere. Four tarantulas is not a personal name and it would be very unlikely that a male warrior would have been given the name of a female entity.

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