Palenque Museum [January 1, 2004]

"The exquisite execution of this recently discovered panel sets it among the first rank of Palenque reliefs. Buried for over 1,000 years in the rubble of Temple 21, its excavation exposed an almost unblemished surface to the light; traces of original red pigment remain visible...

At the heart of the scene is not the reigning king himself but the mighty presence of Pakal. His likeness is immediately recognizable, and his hieroglyphic caption confirms his identity. He is dressed in the guise of an ancestral king and holds a stingray spine bloodletter used in personal sacrifice. Also identified by caption are the flanking figures of Ahkal Mo' Nahb and his heir Upakal K'inich. Oddly, both lords look away from Pakal, as if averting their gaze from a painfully luminous presence. They too have portraits we can recognize on other monuments, the reigning king's more refined features contrasting with the stronger profile of the king-to-be. The snarling felines at either side--whose titles name them as masked priests or court functionaries rather than actual beasts--hold complex bouquets of cloth, paper, and leaves."

Mary Miller & Simon Martin, Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya, p. 232