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PORTRAIT Head OF PAKAL
The focus of Maya courtly art was
the person of the king, seen as both political ruler and living god.
Noble images like this one served to promote his absolute power. This
stucco portrait depicts Pakal the Great, who ascended the throne of
Palenque at the age of 12. He ruled this powerful city-state for 68
years, transforming it with new palaces and temples atop massive stepped
Maize was the staple food of the Maya, and the seasonal
cycle of its planting and harvest dominated Maya life and beliefs.
The shape of the young maize plant even influenced conceptions of beauty.
Pakal's headband here is of buds of flowers...just
coming into bloom. Maize foliage wraps...around...his headdress, and
then his hair is turned back, like the very corn silk that one would
find emerging from the cob.
This portrait was found in Pakal's tomb, which contained
spectacular works of art [some of the most spectacular art yet found
in the Maya world]. It was discovered in 1952, in a chamber at the
bottom of a hidden staircase, deep inside the Temple of the Inscriptions--
a massive building commemorating Pakal's own life, death and resurrection.