The Biography of the Individual Lord Connected to Ritual Practice of Time

Inscriptions signify that different events and exploits of an individual could be coupled, in various ways, with “period-ending dates” and ritual practice of time.

For instance, the Dos Pilas lord, Ajaw B’ot is said to have acceded as ajaw in Seibal at the winikhaab-ending of 13 Ajaw 18 Ohl (Kumk’u)

(Martin and Grube 2000: 65). But it was far from a regular practice to take office at a winikhaab-ending or a haab-ending of the Long Count. In fact, the database of the “period-endings”, from the study of Christie, shows that out of 248 records only 6 “period-endings” coincides with accession rituals (Christie 1995: 304).[1] [2] There is accordingly not a pattern for accession at “period-ending dates” (Le Fort 2000: 78). Neither does it seem to be a manipulation of the dates of birth, death, marriage and burial of individual beings in order to fit into a “period-ending date”.99 Thus the rite de passage of the life of the lord was not associated with ritual practice of time intervals of the Long Count calendar.

Conversely, the life of certain powerful individuals could be connected with “period-ending dates” and ritual practice of time in longer inscriptions. The ritual practices of time or “period-ending dates” are incorporated within the account of various incidents of the biography of the individual. “Period-ending dates” could thus function as marking the background and foreground incidents of an account. For example, the inscription on the backside of Stela 22, Naranjo relates several episodes in the life of the lord K’ak’ Tiliw Chan Chak (Schele and Friedel 1990: 188). It is, however, the celebration of the completion of a half winikhaab-period that is pivotal in this inscription. This date conclude the inscription on the backside and is also repeated on the front side of Stela 22. Two of the ritual practices of time performed on—the blood scattering of the war prisoner and the stone binding by K’ Tiliw Chan Chak—are both mentioned in the text. This highlights the importance of celebrating time in the middle of political enterprises and military campaigns. Not only the “period-ending date” but also the ritual practice of time could accordingly be an essential part of the biography of the lord.

  • [1] Cf. table 4, of the dates of accession in Le Fort (2000: 78-80).
  • [2] Cf. table 21, table 22 and table 23 in Le Fort (2000: 235-239; 241).
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