quirigua

"Quirigua was Copan's most important dependency, providing its rulers with strategic access to the trade routes and mineral resources of the Motagua River valley. For most of the Classic Period, Qirigua seems to have been governed by an offshoot of the dynasty of Yax K'uk' Mo', a bloodline that remained subject to the authority of the high kings at Copan. Throughout their history, the rulers of Quirigua claimed Copan titles in the inscriptions of their monuments and even recorded their descent from Yax K'uk' Mo'. In the reign of Cauac Sky, Quirigua's bonds of allegiance to the dominant site apparently began to fray. In A.D. 738 the two sites would go to war, driven by circumstances that are still not clearly understood...

Interestingly, in the aftermath of Copan's lost war [where Cauac Sky of Quirigua captured and sacrificed 18 Rabbit of Copan], the type of monumental strategy pursued by Smoke-Imix and 18-Rabbit was perpetuated at Quirigua. The closest conterpart of their serial stelae groupings is the program of colossal sculptures erected by Cauac Sky following 18-Rabbit's demise. Cauac Sky's design for Quirigua's Great Plaza is strongly reminiscent of Copan's; his assembly of stelae, concentrated in this location, seems to reflect something of an appropriation of his former overlord's most important monumental work.

The plaza of this small site is majestic, presenting the visitor with an expanse of level courtyard that the towering stelae--the tallest soars to nearly 35 feet--separated into areas of enclosure and sweeping processional spaces. Given Quirigua's modest size and population, one might wonder what ritual spectators and participants visited the site to take part in Cauac Sky's period-ending rites. Who gathered at Quirigua to observe these celebrations? In the aftermath of a war that had separated the site from Copan and its hinterlands, what allies of Cauac Sky might have assembled to honor his claims to sovereign kingship?"

Elizabeth Newsome, Trees of Paradise and Pillars of the World: The Serial Stela Cycle of 18-Rabbit-God-K, King of Copan, p. 45, 64