El Cayo (the cay) was a Maya settlement, dating from the classic period, located on both sides of the Usumacinta River, upriver about 20 kilometres from Piedras Negras and downriver about 35 kilometres from Yaxchilan. Its name refers to the small, low island in the middle of the river, downstream a few metres from the site. As best I have been able to determine, El Cayo may be located in Google Earth using the coordinates 17.2.30.01 N and 91.12.20.02 W. I suggest one not make a stopover there owing to personal security risks.
Dating back to the Olmecs, women often exercised considerable influence, and even power, in Maya cities. This panel records a nameless lady being invested as ruler of El Cayo at the instigation of Aj Chak Wayib' K'utiim who gave the order. She was likely to have been the wife of K'utiim, who was a sajal (sahal) or subservient lord to the ruler of Piedras Negras.
For this occasion, she wears jade jewellery, a richly embroidered dress, and an elaborate headdress. In the right hand she holds a sceptre of office depicting K'awill, god of royal lineages and agricultural fertility. Glyphs date the event as occurring in 795 CE.
Photographed at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Gatineau, Québec.
Nobody has marked this note useful