Itzamnaaj B'alam II

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Itzamnaaj Bʻalam II
King of Yaxchilan
Yaxchilán lintel.jpg
Itzamnaaj Bʻalam II (standing left) on Lintel 24 with his aunt-wife, Lady Xoc
Reign 681–742
Predecessor Yaxun B'alam III
Successor Yaxun B'alam IV
Born 647
Died 742
Consort Lady Xoc
Lady Eveningstar
Lady Sak Bʻiyaan[1]
Issue Yaxun B'alam IV
Father Yaxun B'alam III
Mother Lady Pacal
Religion Maya religion

Itzamnaaj Bʻalam II was a Maya king who ruled in Yaxchilan from 681 until he died in the year 742. He is also called Shield Jaguar II by modern writers and commonly referred to simply as Shield Jaguar based on his name glyph before the phonetic name was deciphered.


Itzamnaaj Bʻalam was born in 647 to Lady Pacal and Yaxun B'alam III and later had a son named Yaxun B'alam IV who ascended to the throne after Itzamnaaj Bʻalam's death.

His grandmother was Lady Xibalba, noblewoman of Yaxchilan.

Early life[edit]

Little is known of Itzamnaaj Bʻalam's early life except that when he was eleven years old one of his siblings participated in a war that involved Pacal, the famous king of Palenque.

Accession and reign[edit]

In order to become king, Itzamnaaj Bʻalam defeated Ah Ahaual (a Mayan noble) in war and took him captive to Yaxchilan. At the age of 34 around October 23, 681, he became king of Yaxchilan. He was married to his aunt, Lady Xoc, and she held a great amount of power.

One of Itzamnaaj B'alam's greatest accomplishments was the construction of what is now called Temple 23. At Temple 23, Lady Xoc is shown performing a bloodletting ritual for three different occasions: Itz'amnáj B'alam's accession to the throne, the birth of Yaxun Bʻalam, and the dedication of Temple 23.

Preparing for an heir[edit]

Itzamnaaj B'alam had a second wife named Lady Eveningstar of Calakmul with whom he had a son named Yaxun Bʻalam. He chose Yaxun Bʻalam to be his successor despite the fact that Lady Xoc, his other wife, had a strategically important bloodline.

It is believed by Linda Schele and David Freidel that Itzamnaaj B'alam had Temple 23 in Yaxchilan constructed to honor Lady Xoc while also gaining public support for his son to become king.

He also married Lady Sak B'iyaan, but she was not of so high status as his aunt.

End of the reign[edit]

The majority of the buildings constructed during Itzamnaaj B'alam's reign occurred in the last third of his life. He was still leading his troops to battle in his eighties.

Itzamnaaj Bʻalam died at the age of 95.


  1. ^ The Ancient Maya by Robert J. Sharer and Loa P. Traxler
Martin, Simon; Nikolai Grube (2008). Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens: Deciphering the Dynasties of the Ancient Maya (2nd, revised ed.). London and New York: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 978-0-500-28726-2. OCLC 191753193.
Schele, Linda; David Freidel (1992). A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya (pbk reprint ed.). New York: Harper Perennial. ISBN 0-688-11204-8. OCLC 145324300.
Sharer, Robert J.; Loa P. Traxler (2006). The Ancient Maya (6th, fully revised ed.). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0-8047-4816-0. OCLC 28067148.
Preceded by
Yaxun B'alam III
High Kings of Yaxchilan
Succeeded by
Yaxun B'alam IV