K'ak' Tiliw Chan Yopaat

K'ak' Tiliw Chan Yopaat

K'ak' Tiliw Chan Yopaat
'k'ul ahaw (holy lord) of Quiriguá
Stela D, north side, from Quiriguá, representing king K'ak' Tiliw Chan Yopaat.[1]
Reign 724 – 785
Predecessor unknown
Successor "Sky Xul"
Born 686-696[2]
Died 785
Issue "Sky Xul"?

K'ak' Tiliw Chan Yopaat, previously known variously as Cauac Sky,[3] Kawak Sky, Buts’ Tiliw and Butz’ Ti’liw, was the greatest leader of the ancient Maya city-state of Quiriguá.


K'ak' Tiliw Chan Yopaat ruled the city from 724 to 785 AD. The most significant event of his reign—and of Quiriguá's history—occurred in AD 738 ( on the Mayan calendar), when his forces defeated the city of Copán. The ruler of Copán, Uaxaclajuun Ub'aah K'awiil (formerly known as "18 Rabbit") was captured and later beheaded.[4]

Before K'ak' Tiliw Chan Yopaat's bold move, Quiriguá had been a vassal of Copán.[5] The defeat of Copán led to its decline but heralded a golden age for its former dependent. For the next 38 years, stonecutters of Quiriguá created zoomorphs and stelae celebrating their legendary king. Quiriguá became a fully autonomous city which controlled the main trade route from the Caribbean to the Maya world. Meanwhile, this incident was followed by a 20-year hiatus in inscriptions at Copán, as well as the disappearance of any further mention of 18 Rabbit.

Current evidence leads to the conclusion that K'ak' Tiliw Chan Yopaat died in 785 AD. There remains a stone at Quiriguá, now identified as Zoomorph G, which seems to have served as his funeral marker.[6]

Two other rulers are known to have reigned at Quiriguá in ensuing years—Sky Xul and Jade Sky—each for about ten years.[7] But none reached the heights achieved by their predecessor.


  1. ^ Looper 2003, pp.122, 140, 146.
  2. ^ Looper 2003, p.234.
  3. ^ Cauac meaning "rainstorm".
  4. ^ Looper 2003, p.76.
  5. ^ Looper 2003, p.79.
  6. ^ Martin & Grube 2000, p.222.
  7. ^ Martin & Grube 2000, p. 218.


Looper, Matthew G. (1999). "New Perspectives on the Late Classic Political History of Quirigua, Guatemala". Ancient Mesoamerica 10 (1999), pp. 263–280 ( 
Looper, Matthew G. (2003). Lightning Warrior: Maya Art and Kingship at Quirigua. Austin, TX:  
Velásquez García, Erik (2006). "Iconografía real de K’ahk’ Tiliw Chan Yo'aat: política y fundación del mundo en Quiriguá, Guatemala". In Cuauhtémoc Medina (ed.). La imagen política: XXV Coloquio Internacional de Historia del Arte "Francisco de la Maza" [2001, San Luis Potosí, México]. Estudios de arte y estética, no. 60. México, D.F.: (Spanish)  
Webster, David L. (2002). The Fall of the Ancient Maya: Solving the Mystery of the Maya Collapse. London: