The striking jade death mask of an ancient Mayan king is presented in a replica tomb in Mexico City.

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The mask is shown in a reproduction of Pakal's tomb at the National Museum of Anthropology. El Comandante/cc by-sa 3.0
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The Temple of the Inscriptions at Palenque, wright here Pakal's tomb and also fatality mask were discovered. jc_castaneda/cc by-sa 3.0
When it was uncovered in 1952 throughout an excavation of the Temple of Inscriptions in the damaged Maya city of Palenque (in the modern Mexihave the right to state of Tabasco), this intricate jade death mask had been lying in a darkened tomb chamber for over a thousand years, extending a skull. Inscriptions on the walls indicated that the skull belonged to none various other than the Maya ajaw (ruler or king) K’inich Janaab’ Pakal, known this particular day as Pakal the Great.

For a lot of his long 68-year reign during the 7th century, Pakal (frequently referred to as “Sun Shield” before his name was name was secudepend deciphered) was the the majority of effective perboy in the whole Americas. But despite the lofty condition he held in the twilight of his life, he began his dominance as an unlikely and also underestimated leader.

Pakal ascfinished the throne at only 12 years old in a city devadeclared by war with the rival Maya state of Kaan. The warring period with the kingdom Kaan had actually twice resulted in catastrophic sieges of Palenque, the massacre of its citizens, and the killing of its former leader. The young king inherited a kingdom in a state of anarchy, profoundly scarred by battle and its recent humiliating army defeat. Many of its stately buildings had been lessened to rubble and also a huge part of its populace lay dead, butchered by the arrows, spears, and obsidian-bladed maces of the ferocious warriors of Kaan. The once-plentiful plants of maize had actually been melted to the ground and also the hazard of famine loomed.

Given such adverse circumstances and grave duties at such a young age, it is a wonder that the boy king did not have a nervous breakdvery own. Instead, all of this showed formative for the character of Pakal. His mother, Lady Sak K’uk, served as regent for 3 years while the young king matured and also learned the ropes of Maya leadership. And though he was faced with critics from the outcollection, the young Pakal showed himself a worthy ruler.

Word of this ambitious young leader and also his city climbing from the ashes started to spreview throughout the Maya world, and also when again the kingdom of Kaan smust ruin it, sending out an substantial army to crush Palenque right into the ground forever before. But once spies obtained word of the enemy’s plans and reported them to the king, Pakal elevated an army and struck the Kaan kingdom outposts. The fight was fierce however the army of Palenque was victorious and also reverted house through a number of recorded adversary lords. Pakal ordered these captives to be sacrificed to the god K’awiil—a deity of serpents, lightning, and also maize—as a public display screen of his power and a warning to his enemies. 

This military victory offered the climbing kingdom some respite from fighting, as its adversaries were ever afterward wary of heralding war on the king. His regime was much from cost-free of problem, however the city would certainly never aget be directly assaulted or be besieged in the time of the life time of Pakal. The king lived to a exceptional 80 years of age and also ruled for 68 of those years, among the longest reigns in huguy history. 

Over a thousand years later on, this striking funerary mask was found inside the sarcophagus of the Pakal the Great throughout the excavation of a tunnel under the Temple of Inscriptions pyramid at Palenque. It is now on display inside a superb reproduction of Pakal’s tomb at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.

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Know Before You Go

You have the right to discover the fatality mask and replica tomb in the National Museum of Anthropology"s Mayan hall. The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. eextremely day except Thursdays, once it is closed to the public. The entrance fee is 51 pesos yet if you are a Mexideserve to nationwide or a foreign resident of the nation you might visit for complimentary on Sundays.