Hamblin 25: U-Kix/Akish

NOTE:  My friend Mark Wright, a professional Maya scholar and linguist, just informed me that recent phonetic interpretations of the glyph traditionally rendered as “kix/kish” below are now thought to read “kokan.”  If the new interpretation is correct, then this argument is rendered moot.   

Now that we’ve got some of the methodological issues on the table (with no agreement), and have discussed the paucity of Preclassic inscriptions, I’d like to turn to the Temple of the Cross Inscription at Palenque, which was built in the late seventh century AD.

There is an inscription in the central shrine on the top of the temple which celebrates the coronation of king K’ihnich Kan B’ahlam II (or K’inich Kan B’alam, or Kinich Chan Bahlum) of Palenque, and gives his his divine and royal ancestry.  The inscription starts with the creation of the world, then passes through various acts of the gods to the first enthronement of the legendary founder of the Palenque dynasty and ancestor of Kinich Chan Balam.  The founder is named U Kix Chan.  (Note his name would have been pronounced something like uh-kish, oo-kish, or wa-kish)

Here is a translation of the inscription, Glyphs E10-F17 on the left panel, continued on glyphs P1-Q3 on the right panel.

2 days, 12 months, and 1330 years after [the day] 9 Ik’ [13 August] had occurred, born then was U K’ix Kan [U-Kix Chan], his name was ? Mat, the Divine Mat Lord. It was 8 days, 7 months, and 26 years after U K’ix Kan had been born then it was the White Bark-Paper [headdress] tying onto the head of U K’ix Kan [= royal coronation]. On 11 Kab’an 0 Pohp [= March 28, 967 BCE] he became the Divine Palenque Lord.

Text and photographs can be found at:

http://learningobjects.wesleyan.edu/palenque/structures/temple_cross/texts.php 

Text, drawings, translation and commentary can be found in Schele and Freidel, A Forest of Kings, 246-247 (a bit dated)

Four things are claimed about U Kix Kan in this inscription.  

1- Chronology: tenth century BCE.  

2- Name: U-Kix Kan.  

3- Title: king.  

4- Function: the legendary founder of the Palenque royal family

This figure can now be compared with king Akish in the Book of Mormon, who is discussed in Ether 8-9.  

1- Chronology: Akish was a Jaredite.  Although there is insufficient data to precisely establish Jaredite chronology, it is clear he lived in the early Preclassic/Formative period (1800 BCE – 400 BCE)

2- Name: Akish is broadly homophonous with U-Kix Kan (phonetically wa-kish, oo-kish, or uh-kish).  (The Kan/Chan suffix means “serpent” and is probably a title.  Maya kings frequently took titles of Kan/Chan/serpent, Balam/jaguar or predatory birds.)  Given the well known phenomena of the change of pronunciation of proper names through time and between cultures, the Maya U-Kish is a close homophonic match to the Book of Mormon Akish some 1500 years earlier. 

3- Title: both men were kings.  

4- Function: both men were founders of a new dynastic line (Ether 9:6).

It would seem, then, that the Maya kings of Palenque had a vague recollection of their legendary ancestor from Olmec times, whose name and function broadly parallels the story of Akish in the Book of Mormon.  Given the sparse nature of the Mesoamerican data, and the uncertainties of the pronunciation of Maya glyphs 1500 years ago, the Akish/U-Kix connection is as good as we can expect to find.  It represents the existence in a Mesoamerican inscription of a Book of Mormon king with broad parallels in name, date, title and function

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