This limestone lintel, considered one of the masterpieces of Maya art, is one of a series of three panels from Structure 23 at Yaxchilán, where it was set above the left (south-east) doorway.
The scene represents a bloodletting ritual performed by the ruler of Yaxchilán, Itzamnaaj Bahlam (or Shield Jaguar, 681-742), and his wife, Lady K'abal Xook. The ruler holds a flaming torch over his wife, who is pulling a rope, probably studded with obsidian blades, through her tongue. Scrolls of blood can be seen around her mouth. Blood let from her tongue falls on the bark paper lined bowl on the floor.
The first two glyphs in the text at the top of the lintel indicate the event and the date on which it took place, 24 October, AD 709 (5 Eb, 15 Mak in the Maya calendar). The last glyph represents the Emblem Glyph (that is, the city name in Maya hierolglyphs) of Yaxchilán. The text on the left of the panel contains the name and titles of Lady K'abal Xook.
The lintel has traces of Maya blue, turquoise and red pigment.
Lintels 24 and 25, removed at Maudslay's request at the end of the nineteenth century, are on permanent display in the British Museum's Mexican Gallery. Lintel 26, the third in the series, is in the Museo Nacional de Antropología, in Mexico City.