In the iconography of the different rulers of Copan, K’inich Yax K’uk’ Mo’, the founder of Copan, can be recognized by several attributes, especially that of warriors from Teotihuacan. For example, Altar Q, exhibited in the Sculpture Museum in Copan, depicts the sixteen rulers of Copan, but K’inich Yax K’uk’ Mo’ is easily recognized, probably investing with power the sixteenth ruler. He wears goggles, which were characteristic of Teotihuacan warriors, has a macaw and a quetzal intermingled on his headdress, and his right arm is covered by what looks like a shield.
Tests done to the body that is believed to be that of K’inich Yax K’uk’ Mo’, show that he had fractures on his right arm, which could have been caused by the handling of the shield. Furthermore, these tests show that he was not from Copan, leading some to believe that he was from Tikal or Teotihuacan. The intermingling of the macaw and the quetzal is an interesting one that could derive from ancient myths. It is known that Quetzals feathers were imported from Guatemala, while Macaws were collected in Copan. Today the scarlet Macaw is the national bird of Honduras, while the Quetzal is the national bird of Guatemala. No other ruler in Copan is depicted with this type of headdress.
Altar Q in the Sculpture Museum in Copan.
Photo by Rosa De Armas