In 1990, my friend Dr. Oswaldo Chichilla Mazariegos oversaw exploratory excavations at a small elite architectural compound at Dos Pilas known as Group N5-6 (Chinchilla Mazariegos 1990). In the course of his excavations he discovered several beautifully carved blocks in the interior chamber of Structure N5-21, the largest of the buildings in the group. These included sculpted masonry “legs” for a bench or throne, each depicting kneeling humans figures with duck-bills with their hand aloft. These were clearly once Wind God supports for the bench. Also found by Chinchilla were four carved stones that must have formed one of the two upper side panels of the same bench-throne, depicting a seated K’inich Ajaw, or Sun God (see figure). Here I present my drawing of the sculpture, based on a field drawing I made from the original stones in 1990 while working as part of Vanderbilt University’s Proyecto Arqueológico Regional Petexbatun. This drawing has not been published before now.
K’inich Ajaw is shown seated within or in front of a nice example of a solar cartouche, adorned with bony serpent or centipede heads at its corners (only one is visible, at upper left). All in all, it is one of the finest portraits of the Sun God I know from Classic Maya sculpture. He has k’in glyphs on each arm and leg, as well as on his forehead. In his left hand the Sun God holds the head of an animal, probably a deer. Although missing a few details, this is almost surely an example of a particular deer that appears elsewhere in Maya iconography, showing a footprint design over its eye. The “footprint deer,” as I call it, is nearly always paired with a certain old-looking human god in both iconography and in inscriptions, and I suspect the latter was depicted on the whatever image must have accompanied this Sun God on the N5-21 bench. Their meanings remain obscure, but there’s good reason to think the two have some sort of opposed or complementary meanings, perhaps associated with solar phenomena.
I hope I will be able to track down my drawings of the two Wind God supports of the throne and post them sometime in the future.
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Chinchilla Mazariegos, Oswaldo. 1990. Operación DP14: Investigaciones en el Grupo N5-6. In Proyecto Arqueológico Regional Petexbatun, informe preliminar no. 2, segunda temporada, 1990, edited by Arthur A. Demarest and Stephen D. Houston. Nashville: Department of Anthropology, Vanderbilt University.
UPDATE (April 14, 2009): As Oswaldo mentions in his recent comment (see below), photographs of this sun god carving were published in two European exhibit catalogues, and his own drawing appeared in an article he published in 2006. Thanks to Oswaldo for the information (and of course for finding the sculpture!).