Women Rulers in Maya Society

Women Rulers In Maya Society

During the 7th and 8th centuries in Mesoamerica, there is an evident shift in the roles women played in ancient Maya society as compared with the previous two centuries. It is during this time that there was a great deal of political complexity seen both in Maya royal houses as well as in the Maya area. Warfare was a significant factor in political competition and marriage was one of the ways that alliances were made between the different polities. This was accompanied by a shift in women's roles from wife and mother to playing integral parts in courtly life, such as participating in rituals involving the supernatural world and at times ruling individual polities.

A handful of women are described and depicted on monuments taking on roles and titles that were usually reserved for men. High ranking titles that both men and women could hold included Ajaw and Kaloomte'. The title of Ajaw was seen as "the most general title" that a person of nobility could have if they were born into the right social ranking; meanwhile, the title Kaloomte' has an unclear meaning but it is at the site of Tikal where the title is used as the highest rank.

Among the high ranking women in ancient Maya society during the Classic Period were five who rose to the position of ruling queen. Some acceded to the throne in their own right due to the lack of a male heir. Others served as regent until their sons were old enough to rule. These women included Lady of Tikal, Lady Yohl Ik'nal and Muwaan Mat of Palenque, Lady Six Sky of Naranjo, and Lady Eveningstar of Yaxchilan.

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