Sihyaj K’ahk’ at La Sufricaya?

by Bruce Love

At the European Maya Conference in Copenhagen in 2011, I sat in for a time in Sven Gronemeyer’s and Dmitiri Beliaev’s workshop “From Ochk’in Kaloomte to Dzuloob: Mesoamerica in the Maya World.” This workshop reviewed a number of so-called entrada events that occurred in the Maya lowlands over time, of which the most famous is probably that of Sihyaj K’ahk’ arriving at Tikal in A.D. 378 (Proskouriakoff 1993:4-10; Stuart 2000). In the sourcebook for the workshop, several examples of Sihyaj K’ahk’s name glyph were shown from a number of sites including El Peru, Tikal, Uaxactun, Rio Azul and others.

The question arose whether his name also appears on Stela 6 at La Sufricaya (Figure 1). The drawing of Stela 6 in the workbook comes from Grube’s study of the monuments of La Sufricaya (Grube 2003:700) in which he suggests the possibility that Sihyaj K’ahk’s name glyph appears at position D3. Although the drawing leaves some doubt as to the identification of the glyphs in question, the context is indeed suggestive. The Long Count date (8.17.?.9.9) seems roughly contemporaneous with Sihyaj K’ahk’s entrada to Petén (ibid., 700) and there are published artifacts and murals at the site in Teotihuacan style (Estrada-Belli 2009)(Note 1). In fact, Mural 7 from La Sufricaya marks the arrival of Sihyaj K’ahk’ to Tikal (although his personal name is absent) and appears to mark the one-year anniversary of that event (ibid.:238-243) (Figure 2).

Figure 1. La Sufricaya, Stela 6. Photograph by Bruce Love.
Figure 2. Mural 7 from La Sufricaya, a painted text recording the arrival of Sihyaj K’ahk’ to Tikal in 378, and the dedication of a building on that day’s one year anniversary. Drawing by Heather Hurst.

In order to clarify the presence or absence of Sihyaj K’ahk’s name glyph, I asked Francisco Estrada-Belli, director of the Holmul Archaeological Project (of which La Sufricaya is an integral part), if I could photograph and draw Stela 6. As a result, on May 7, 2012, I photographed the stela, took detail shots of the glyphs with various light angles, and later made a drawing of the purported name glyph based on the photographs. The monument itself is currently housed in the IDAEH bodega in Melchor de Mencos, Petén.

The face of the monument is highly eroded as Figure 1 shows. The glyph in question is at D3.

In addition to the portrait photograph shown in Figure 1, several close-ups with different light angles were taken to record details. A selected close-up of D3, the one with the most information in my opinion, is shown in Figure 3 accompanied by a drawing of the same.

FIgure 3. Detail and drawing of glyph D3 on Stela 6. (Both by Bruce Love)

Although Sihyaj K’ahk’ is mentioned indirectly in the Mural 7 text, and (2) the Long Count date on the monument seems within the time period of his activities, and a number of monuments at sites in Petén do record the entrada event, I believe that Stela 6 does not. The results of this study indicate that the glyph in question fails to show any clear characteristics of Sihyaj K’ahk’s name.

Note 1. The tun and winal glyphs, not visible on the face of Stela 6, were found on a fragment that had separated from the main body of the monument.

Appreciation: I thank Sven Gronemeyer and Dmitri Beliaev for their workshop and the use of their workbook “From Ochk’in Kaloomte to Dzuloob: Mesoamerica in the Maya World,” 16th European Maya Conference, Copenhagen, 2011; and special thanks to Francisco Estrada-Belli for access to the monuments, for suggestions to improve this note, and encouragement to write these results.

References Cited

Estrada-Belli, Francisco, Alexandre Tokovinine, Jennifer Foley, Heather Hurst, Gene Ware, David Stuart, and Nikolai Grube. 2009. A Maya Palace at Holmul, Peten, Guatemala and the Teotihuacan ‘Entrada’: Evidence from Murals 7 and 9. Latin American Antiquity 20(1):228-259.

Grube, Nikolai. 2003. Monumentos jeroglíficos de Holmul, Petén, Guatemala. In XVI Simposio de Investigaciones de Arqueología de Guatemala, edited by Laporte, J. P., B. Arroyo, H. Escobedo, H. Mejía, pp. 701-710. Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología, Guatemala.

Proskouriakoff, Tatiana. 1993. Maya History. University of Texas Press, Austin

Stuart, David. 2000. The “Arrival of Strangers”: Teotihuacan and Tollan in Classic Maya History. In Mesoamerica’s Classic Heritage: From Teotihuacan to the Aztecs, ed. by D. Carrasco, L. Jones, and S. Sessions, pp. 465-514. University Press of Colorado, Boulder.

3 thoughts on “Sihyaj K’ahk’ at La Sufricaya?

  1. Alexandre Tokovinine October 17, 2012 / 5:12 AM

    Bruce makes a valid point. I photographed the stela myself in 2007 and could not see much either.

    There are, however, a few important points worth mentioning.

    1) There is a high-resolution (0.24mm) 3D digital replica of this monument. Other Sufricaya monuments in the bodega have also been scanned in 2012. So we can always share our thoughts over a 3D PDF of every block of these inscriptions if Francisco approves such sharing.

    2) K’awiil is part of Sihyaj K’ahk’s full name and titles and proper may in fact be present in the last block of the inscription on Mural 7

    3) Early Classic consists of three elements

    3) Unfortunately, it is very likely that Stela 6 sustained more erosion and damage after it was drawn by Nikolai. I recall that a tree fell on its roof and crashed the whole thing in 2005 or 2007. There was a lot of tiny fragments which flaked off back in 2007 before it was taken to Melchor. So it is possible that Nikolai’s drawing reflects the state of the monument shortly after it was found and cleared. Some surface loss happened later.

    (my 2007 photos)

  2. Alexandre Tokovinine October 17, 2012 / 2:07 PM

    Sorry for some typos in the previous comment. I just realized that all transcriptions in brackets were not included (I guess the wordpress software interpreted them as links or some other kind of active code). Last block of La Sufricaya Mural 7 potentially contains SIH-ja-K’AHK’. The Early Classic K’AHK’ form may contain three elements rather than two, so it is not so different from what is left on Stela 6 given the amount of erosion.