Comments on Vase K7749
By:  Marc Zender
Vea este artículo en Español.

Vase K7749

I’ve been thinking about that remarkable incised-alabaster vessel that is published in MVB Vol. 6, p. 1006 (K7749) and just had to send you some comments about both the unique combative scene on it, as well as its decidedly non-standard PSS glyph sequence. As noted in your on-line comments, two combatants clearly wrestle with one another and stab at each other with sharpened femurs. Both are clearly marked as captives by the bark-paper pulled through their ears, their shaved heads, and by the vestigial ropes around their necks. They are naked save for simple loincloths. The uppermost combatant has his opponent on the ground, stepping on him as he drives a sharpened bone into his cheek, letting blood as he does so.

This fellow is named hieroglyphically as to-k’a/a-CHAK-XIB’, to’k’ a[j]-chak-xib’  or "Flint, He of Chak-Xib’" (Chak-Xib’ must be an unknown site). The losing combatant desperately kicks at his assailant with his right foot and grasps at the back of his head with his right hand, all the while stabbing him on his right side with a sharpened bone. This chap is named a-JANAAB’-?/a-MUK-ni, a[j]-janaab’ a[j]-muk[uu]n, or "Cornflower, He of Mukuun" (again, Mukuun is unfortunately an unknown site).

As they fight, two sumptuously-attired lords look on. Their attitude is almost that of "seconds" at a duel, and they seem to hold more sharpened femurs at the ready should the combatants need them. This gives one the impression that this particular fight between captives was to the death, rather than merely to first-blood (which has clearly been drawn already, with no sign of abatement in the battle). The rightmost "second" is clearly a lord, and he wears the jester-god crown of office, as well as many sumptuous jades and quetzal feathers. He also smokes a cigar and holds out the most sharpened bones: three in his left hand, and one outstretched to the leading combatant in his right. The leftmost "second" is dressed as an itz’aat  or "sage," and he holds out a bone to his favorite as well, though mayhap somewhat perfunctorily, the outcome being somewhat obvious already.

The PSS text above the scene is unique, and reads as follows:

yu-k’i-b’i lu-mi-li pi-tzi-la u-WI’ wi-WINIK-ki-li b’a-TE’ pi-tzi-la u-NICH-ki-li ka-b’a-la pi-tzi-la, y-uk.\’ib luumil pitziil u-wi’-winik-il b’ate’ pitziil u-nichkil kab’al pitziil,

"it is the drinking-cup of the dirty-ballplayer, [who is] the last man of the great-ballplayer and son of the earthy-ballplayer".

It’s hard to relate this to any great extent with what’s going on below, and perhaps it’s a mistake to try. PSS texts rarely have any relation to the iconographic program of a vessel (being largely concerned with the creation and ownership of the vessel itself). Moreover, there’s no real "ballplayer" imagery in evidence. That said, it’s hard not to want to connect the unique and interesting "last man" phrase to the bloody combat depicted. Any thoughts?

I’d appreciate any comments you might have on the foregoing.

Marc Zender, February, 2001

The sharpened bone pictured below may be the type of bone that was used by the combatants on the vase. The text says "His jaguar bone, Flint face of Naranjo".

Incised Bone

A Maya Sharpened Bone

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