War of Kings:
thoughts about protection of the kings during warfare
monuments describe the wars that Maya-cities organized to gain fertile land or
prisoners for sacrifices, the images shows triumphing rulers humiliating their
Ahau and his Sahal wear imposing clothes of jaguar skin. Their shields were
round and covered with semi-precious stones or feathers. These were used as war
attributes, as well as the short spears and wooden swords with flint. The
Tok’-Pakal (Spear-Shield) became the symbol of warfare, a warfare in which the
ruler himself was taking a great risk to become wounded or even killed.
minimize that risk, the ruler probably was accompanied by loyal bodyguards. We
already know that the Cocom rulers of Postclassic Mayapan protected themselves
with Mexican mercenaries who were known as Ah Canul or ‘Protectors’. Perhaps
this practice was an heritage of the Classical Period.
front of stela 31 in Tikal, ruler Sian Kan K’awil is shown in full robes. What
is notable on this stela is that his father is shown on both sides depicted as a
warrior in Central-Mexican wardrobe, including a square shield with Tlaloc, the
Mexican raingod, depicted on it.
the archeological season of 1981, archeologists found the looted grave of Ruler
X in the Maya-city Río Azul. Three years later they discovered grave 19, and
one year after that grave 23. Both graves were near the grave of Ruler X.
Judging the pottery and the size of the skeletal bones, archeologists could
conclude that the men from grave 19 and 23 originated from Central-Mexico.
Probably these men were the loyal bodyguards of Ruler X.
like these suggests that some of the Classical Maya-rulers were not only
receiving moral but also physical support. Their allies gave them well trained
warriors from Central-Mexico. Perhaps these warriors were send by the rulers
from Teotihuacán itself.
its heydays, Teotihuacán was the most powerful city in Mesoamerica. Its mighty
army was feared by every enemy. It is possible that Maya-rulers tried to ensure
their safety by surrounding themselves with some of these warriors. But it is
also possible that the rulers of Teotihuacán wanted to ensure themselves that
nothing would happen to these kings during their wars.
had lucrative commercial relationships with cities like Tikal, and had a great
stake in protecting these relationships with al means necessary. Perhaps rulers
of cities like Tikal en Río azul were given bodyguards from Teotihuacán to
protect the investments and agreements that commercial delegations had made with
the divine kings of the Maya-cities.
2004 Terugblik op een Wereldtijdperk: Cultuur en Geschiedenis van de Oude Maya’s, Uitgeverij S. Roeling, Rotterdam.