Her name means "Lady Heart of the Wind Place." Like Naranjo's Lady Six Sky, she was a ruler -- but there is a difference. Known by other names such as Kan Ik, Lady or Ix Yohk Ik'nal was a queen regnant. This means she was the official ruler of the polity/city-state of Baak/Baakal. (Palenque was a city inside it.) We know this because she had the title "Divine Lord of Palenque."
Once there was a man named K'uk' Balam. In 431 AD he became Palenque's ruler, and because of this became the founder of a line of rulers -- though he only reigned until 435 AD. The last male ruler in this line was Kan Balam I. was either Yohl Ik'nal's father or brother. It seems that when this ruler died, there wasn't another male that could follow him. So Yohl Ik'nal became ruler.
Yohl Ik'nal officially became Palenque's ruler on December 21st, 583 AD. (Mesoweb's Encyclopedia gives the day as December 23rd.) As far as archaeologists have found, her ascension makes her the first woman to rule Palenque.
There aren't a lot of things known about Lady Yohl Ik'nal's reign. Two events currently known were attacks. In 603 AD, on May 16, Bonampak attacked Palenque. Four years before that, there may have or actually was an attack by the Kaan or Snake polity/city-state, on April 21 -- though The Historical Dictionary of Mesoamerica gives April 23. (Kaan might not sound like a familiar city-state, until you find out that at it's center city at one point in its history became Calakmul -- however, in the reign of Lady Yohl Ik'nal, it might not have been yet.)
But archaeologists do know something about Lady Yohl Ik'nal's reign that may not have been about war.Lady Yohl Ik'nal "supervised" an accession of some kind for a "K'an Tok lord," but no one knows when. (There is no agreement about what a K'an Tok lord was.) The "when" of this is pretty fuzzy though. The closest that archaeologists have gotten is that the event happened basically almost anywhere in her reign, between 587 AD and 604 AD.
Lady Yohl Ik'nal may have been married. There is a man in the records that we know as Janaab Pakal who was either her son or her husband. The ruler who came after her, Ajen Yohl Mat, may have been their son. (If Janaab Pakal was actually a son of Lady Yohl Ik'nal, it seems that Ajen Yohl Mat would have been his older brother.)
After a reign just shy of twenty-one years, Lady Yohl Ik'nal died in 604 AD, on November 4th. Ajen Yohl Mat became the next ruler in 605 AD, on New Year's Day. As to where this queen of Palenque was buried, there's an idea that a building at Palenque called Temple XX is her tomb. (This idea came from an archaeologist named Merle Greene Robertson.)
It seems that Yohl Ik'nal's family found her memorable. On her well-known descendant Pakal's sarcophagus, artists drew members of his family and fruit trees -- and some members are put on twice. One of the family members put on twice is Yohl Ik'nal. On the sargophagus's west side, she's drawn standing by a sapodilla, a tree that the ancient Maya used various parts of -- including harvesting its sap for different uses. On the east side, she's coming out of an avocado tree.
Another Consideration: A Theory on a Headdress
|An old artistic rendering of the Oval|
Palace Tablet. Some artistic license
has been used. From the NYPL
An artifact that shows this headdress is the Oval Palace Tablet. On this tablet, the famous Pakal is being given the headdress by his mother, Lady Sak K'uk'.
Google Books: "Encyclopedia of the Ancient Maya"; Walter R.T. Witschey (editor); 2016
Google Books: "Parallel Worlds: Genre, Discourse, and Poetics in Contemporary, Colonial and Classic Maya Literature"; Kerry M. Hull, Michael D. Carrasco; 2012
"Historical Dictionary of Mesomerica"; Walter R.T. Witschey, Clifford T. Brown; 2012
Maya Decipherment: Ideas on Ancient Maya Writing and Iconography: "The Temple XX Tomb"; September 20, 2012; David Stuart
Mesoweb: "The Rulers of Palenque"; Joel Skidmore; 2010
Google Books: "Daily Life in Maya Civilization" second edition; Robert J. Sharer; 2009
The University of Texas at Austin University of Texas Libraries: "Framing the Portrait: Towards an Understanding of Elite Late Classic Maya Representation at Palenque Mexico"; Kaleyy Rae Spencer; May 2007
Mesoweb Encyclopedia: Lady Yohl Ik'nal
Mesoweb Encyclopedia: Ajen Yohl Mat
Mesoweb: Palenque: The Oval Palace Tablet
Pixabay: Mexico, Palenque, Ruins, Archaeology, Palace, City
NYPL Digital Collections: Two seated figures and two-headed dog within a circle, over bench decorated with figures and abstract elements.