Kolomt’e K’abel

Front face of a Stela depicting Kolomt’e K’abel (692). Image Credit: WikiCommons.

By Johanna Strong

Kolomte K’abel was the daughter of the ruler of the neighbouring Calakmul, known as the Snake Kingdom – from which the Snake Lord title originates. Kolomte translates to ‘Supreme Warrior’ or ‘high king’ (or ‘high queen’ in Lady K’abel’s case). According to the hieroglyphics found on jars in her tomb, she was known as ‘Lady Snake Lord’, a reference to her family’s dynasty and realm. Traditionally, the title Snake Lord and Kolomte were held by men, but Lady K’abel held authority in her own right.

Though a powerful warrior queen in the seventh century, relatively little is known about her life. She was married to King Wak Kinich Bahlam II in order to extend the reach of her father’s authority to El-Perú-Waka, in modern-day northern Guatemala. Despite being married, Lady K’abel maintained her authority and ruled likely from 672-692. In a tomb only uncovered in the early twenty-first century, Lady K’abel was buried at El-Perú-Waka at a significant religious site.

Her female authority followed the sixth-century precedent set by Yohl Ik’nal.

Recommended Reading

Dusty Ellis, “Cultural and Historical Views of Women in Ancient Mayan Civilization through Sculpture.” https://provost.utsa.edu/undergraduate-research/journal/files/vol5/JURSW.5.Ellis.revised.pdf

James Owen, “Tomb of Maya Queen Found—”Lady Snake Lord” Ruled Centipede Kingdom,” National Geographic (2012). https://www.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/article/121004-tomb-maya-warrior-queen-science-archaeology

Shannon Palus and Tasha Eichenseher, “The Power and Glory of the Maya Queens,” Discover Magazine (2013). https://www.discovermagazine.com/the-sciences/the-power-and-glory-of-the-maya-queens.

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