Chan-Bahlum, Stucco Portrait Head

Stucco portrait of Chan-Bahlum found in the rubble of Temple 14

"Chan-Bahlum, who reigned from February 10, A.D. 684, to February 20, A.D. 702, constructed the group of temples called the Group of the Cross to house the panels that recorded his ancestral history, the divine origin of his lineage, his accession and other important rituals that took place during the first ten years of his reign.

After his death, his younger brother, Kan-Xul, erected Temple 14 to contain the dangerous power that had accumulated in the Group of the Cross during his brother's lifetime. One of two portraits of Chan-Bahlum found in the rubble of Temple 14 in Palenque is complete [photo above]. It was modeled in plaster over stone armatures attached either to the piers of the temple or to its entablature.

Somber and dignified, the portrait depicts Chan-Bahlum in his prime with the intense look of a powerful ruler. His earlobe is pierced, and a square-cut lock of hair survives above his right ear. Once painted in full polychrome, this portrait reveals the artist's excellent understanding of facial anatomy and rivals Roman portraiture in its power and accuracy."

Schele & Miller, The Blood of Kings, p. 64