Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Photos of the Le Plongeon Expedition to the Yucatan (1883-1875) are available via the L.A. Getty Center Digital archives

Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program

Recently, I had the chance to go to the new impressive Getty Center in L.A. With help from their research librarian, I was able to navigate a maze of links to access the online photos of Le Plongeon Expedition (1883-1875) of the Yucatan. The online photos are quite good resolution. There is lots of archaeological and art historical data to be mined since most photos are still unpublished.

Here is the link to the Getty Research Archives:

Use the files on the left of the page to access the photos. Click on the term "Recto" under each photo to enlarge each print.

Happy Hunting,


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Maya God Profiles: The “Principal Bird Deity”

The Maya “Principal Bird Deity” (a.k.a. PBD) is depicted often sitting perched atop celestial “sky bands” and the branches of  world trees in Maya iconography as seen on Palenque’s Temple of the Cross (Bardawil 1976; Cortez 1986) where it stands atop a stylised Ceiba Tree.
Palenque Temple of the Cross, Central Sanctuary Panel. Drawing by Linda Schele courtesy of David Schele and FAMSI.

The bird is very much the avian counterpart of Itzamnaj (God D) and often wears the same diadems and necklace of this God (Boot 2008; Stone and Zender 2011:47). The bird is seen morphing into God D on a codex style vase published by Hellmuth (1987:268, figs. 578 and 579). At Tonina (Monument p48) a glyphic portrait of the PBD is rendered with the head of Itzamnaj.
Tonina Monument p48, a Portrait of the Principle Bird Deity with the head of Itzamnaaj. Drawing By Simon Martin.

So fused are these two gods that their combined portraits glyphs serve as a theonym for God D on the “Yax Wayib” Mask (blocks C4-D4) as well as on Xcalumkin, Column 5 (A2) and Column 3 (A5) and Kerr Vessel No. 7727 (Boot 2008:18).
God D title on the “Yax Wayib” Mask (blocks C4-D4). Drawing by Carl Callaway. 

There is little doubt that when God D is present the “Principal Bird Deity” is somewhere close at hand and vice versa. The new God D Court Vessel analyzed by Erik Boot (2008) depicts the bird standing atop the head of the “CHAN bird head” (with an axe in its eye) that is the substitute for the T561 “CHAN” sky glyph. As Boot (2008:24-25) astutely points out that this small axe is the diagnostic element in the head variant of the number six and it identifies the bird head with an axe infix to be a representation for the 6-SKY location WAK CHAN. This being the case, the “Principal Bird Deity” literally stands aloft the celestial realm of the WAK CHAN, a place where not only resides the court of God D but by proxy the WAK CHAN AJAW gods who oversee era day events on  4 Ajaw 8 Kumk'u (as noted on block D5 of the “Yax Wayib” Mask and Quirigua Stela C east, block B26).

Works Cited
Bardawil, Lawrence W.
1976 The Principal Bird Deity in Maya Art: An Iconographic Study of Form and Meaning. In: Proceedings of the Second Palenque Round Table, M. G. Robertson, ed., vol. III, pp. 195–209. Robert Louis Stevenson School, Pebble Beach: Pre–Columbian Art Research Institute.

Boot, Erik 
2008 At the Court of Itzam Nah Yax Kokaj Mut: Preliminary Iconographic and Epigraphic Analysis of a Late Classic Vessel. On-line at:

Cortez, Constance
1986 The Principal Bird Deity in Preclassic and Early Classic Maya Art. M.A. Thesis, Department of Art and Art History, Austin: University of Texas at Austin.

Hellmuth, Nicholas M.
1987 Monsters and Men in Maya Art. Verlagsanstalt Graz, Austria: Akademische Druck.

Stone, Andrea, and Mark Zender
2011 Reading Maya Art. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Lords of Time 2014 Maya Calendar

The Lords of Time Maya Calendar is now available in two formats! This is the best Maya Calendar I have seen offered that integrates and presents ancient Maya and modern European calendars together on one page. The Maya glyphs are accurately and beautifully rendered. As an added benefit, the maker offers an introduction to the Maya calendar with a great series of graphics that display the inner workings of the Maya's sacred (260 day) and solar (365 day) calendars. For more information Click on the following link: