by David Stuart
On the Kerr database of Maya vessels appears a colorful polychrome, K4020, depicting two repeating scenes of K’awiil seated upon a throne or bench (Figure 1).
A short dedicatory formula text appears in the two glyph panels separating the figures. This begins with the right-most column of glyphs in the photograph, reading down:
a-ALAY??-ya / T’AB-yi / yu-k’i-b’i / ti-tzi-hi
ya-AJAW-TE’ / K’INICH / K’UH(UL) / SAK-WAHY-si
Alay(??) t’ab’ay y-uk’ib’ ti tzih
yajawte’ k’inich k’uhul sak wahyis
“Here goes up (is dedicated) the cup for tzih of
Yajawte’ K’inich, the Holy Sak Wahyis”
The name of vessel’s owner, Yajawte’ K’inich, appears with some regularity at several sites in the central lowlands, including Naranjo, El Pajaral, Zapote Bobal, and La Corona. However, the presence of the regional title K’uhul Sakwahyis on the vessel strongly suggests that La Corona is the relevant connection — only there do we find the same combination of Yajawte’ K’inich name and title, in reference to a Late Classic ruler who reigned around 18.104.22.168.14 (Figure 2). This is the opening date of the so-called Dallas Panel from La Corona, commemorating the arrival of the wife of Yajawte’ K’inich to La Corona from Calakmul (Freidel and Guenter 2003; Martin 2008). The addition of the k’uhul “holy” modifier on the title on K4020 is the only difference, but this is probably a minor distinction, as Sak Wahyis can appear both with and without k’uhul elsewhere in La Corona’s inscriptions.
K4020’s other possible connection with La Corona comes from the repeating scenes on the vessel. In each representation K’awiil sits atop a throne decorated with a large symbolic white flower, somewhat schematic but nonetheless clear. It seems likely that these are emblematic versions of the ancient toponym we know for La Corona, Saknikte’ (“white blossom”).
Freidel, David, and Stanley Guenter. 2003. Bearers of War and Creation. Archaeology. http://www.archaeology.org/online/features/siteq2/index.html
Martin, Simon 2008. Wives and Daughters on the Dallas Altar. Mesoweb. http://www.mesoweb.com/articles/martin/Wives&Daughters.pdf
Dave, I don’t know if you remember me mentioning this vessel and its possible La Corona connection at our Yale meeting back in 2008, but I don’t remember myself whether I then mentioned one other possible connection to La Corona this vessel may have. During our first project expedition to La Corona in 2005 Damien Marken and I noticed a ton of ceramics laying around the newly built latrine just NW of the main plaza of the site and one curious feature of a number of sherds was the prominent use of bluish-grey paint on them. This vessel certainly features a lot more blue paint than the average Classic period Maya vase does, and I have wondered if this might not have been a characteristic of La Corona ceramics. Unfortunately, we have found few complete vessels from the site that can certainly be said to have been local manufactures. Nevertheless, the k’uhul sak wahyis title is common on Codex-style ceramics, and this is not in that style, so the blue trim and polychrome decoration may indeed be the local style. Hopefully future discoveries will be able to confirm or disprove this hypothesis, and if possible, we should try and test this vessel against vessels and sherds actually recovered from La Corona itself.
Hi Stan, This is indeed an old idea that’s been sitting in my head — and clearly others’ as well — for many years, and back before 2008. Yes, I agree it would be very interesting to test the clay against the large archaeological sample that now exists. Maybe the AMNH would even agree to it.
I should also mention another very indirect clue that La Corona may be the vessel’s point of origin: it’s been in the American Museum of Natural History collection for a long time I think, at least back to the early 70s or even late 60s (the precise date needs checking). Its acquisition there would therefore pre-date a good deal of the looting in other parts of Petén. We know La Corona was targeted by a major looting operation in the mid-1960s, so the timing generally fits.
I took a few photos of this vessel at the AMNH. Just in case they could be useful:
Many thanks, Alex.