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September 14, 2018

The Red Queen of Palenque


Above, the limestone sarcophagus of Lady Tz'akbu Ajaw, wife of powerful seventh century CE Mayan ruler K'inich Janaab Pakal I.

His tomb at Palenque was discovered in the mid-twentieth century but that of his wife only came to light in 1994.

The sarcophagus, whose interior was painted with crimson cinnabar, was discovered within her funerary monument, now known as Temple XIII.

From the Metropolitan Museum of Art:


Following her interment in the sarcophagus, her body and accompanying ornaments and offerings were also covered with a thick layer of cinnabar.

Understandably dubbed the Red Queen, her burial is one of the richest known for a female Maya ruler.

In addition to a headdress of greenstone and shell and an elaborate collar of multicolored stone and shell beads, she wore a headband (below) composed of two rows of circular disks made of the type of fine apple-green jade most prized by the Maya.


The mask over her face (above), made of malachite tesserae, has limestone and obsidian eyes that appear to bore right into you, conveying a striking sense of the presence of the queen.

September 14, 2018 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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