Yaxchilan lintel 16


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

This limestone lintel is one of a series of three panels commissioned by Bird Jaguar IV for Structure 21 at Yaxchilán and was once set above the central doorway of the central chamber.

The figure of Bird Jaguar IV dominates the scene while his captive sits at his feet. Bird Jaguar wears the same warrior costume as his father did on Lintel 26 from Structure 23, and carries a spear in his right hand. Bird Jaguar's captive was taken in AD 752, probably in a battle spawned by inter-city rivalry, as suggested by the first two glyphs at the upper-left corner of the lintel. He carries a broken parasol in his right hand, an attribute of defeated warriors.

Scenes representing the public display of captives occur frequently in Maya art. They are often shown preparing for bloodletting rituals. Here, beads of blood can be seen on the captive's nose and cheek.

The capture of sacrificial victims was an essential aspect of Maya warfare, as they were necessary for many rituals. Accession rituals, for example, entailed the offering of dedicatory human sacrifices to mark the enthronement of a new ruling lord.


  • Title: Yaxchilan lintel 16
  • Date Created: 755/770
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 78.80cm; Width: 76.20cm; Depth: 7.00cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: carved
  • Subject: ruler; prisoner
  • Registration number: Am1923,Maud.2
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Yaxchil
  • Period/culture: Classic Maya; Late Classic
  • Other information: Cultural rights may apply.
  • Material: limestone
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Transferred from Victoria and Albert Museum. Previous owner/ex-collection Maudslay, Alfred Percival

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps