The purpose of this thesis is to describe and document parentage statements and paired stela found on Maya monuments or portable objects. While the existence of parentage statements, within the Maya text, has been known since the late 1970s, no thesis or major research project has ever been published pertaining to this class of glyphs within the Maya script. In 1977 Christopher Jones is credited with the discovery of parentage statements in Maya hieroglyphic texts (Jones 1977). His discovery was followed by a detailed analysis of parentage statements by Floyd Lounsbury, Peter Mathews, and Linda Schele (1977). They introduced most of the known parentage statements and detailed their use in the hieroglyphic texts. While their work, which introduced parentage statements, in general, is cited regularly as the all-encompassing source of information about parentage statements, it remains unpublished. This thesis provides a source for all new and previous work done on parentage statements and insight into possibly why parentage statements were used by the Classic Maya. An analysis of 253 archaeological sites containing a total of 2473 glyphic monuments was conducted as part of this thesis. Justin Kerr's online vase and photo collections were also checked for parentage statements on portable objects and ceramic vessels. Parentage statements were found on 225 monuments and 70 portable objects bringing the total to 295 different monuments with parentage statements. Each parentage statement is identified and transcribed phonetically. The usage of each parentage statement and its variants are then mapped through time. Also introduced in this thesis is the death of a parent glyph commonly known as the Winged Capped Ajaw Death Phrase. An analysis of its usage demonstrates that it refers to the death of a parent. Paired stelae were analyzed as another possible form of parentage statements. This thesis tests three hypotheses on why parentage statements were used. They included ancestor worship, political legitimacy, and heir designation. The weaknesses and strengths of each hypothesis are demonstrated through case studies. Lastly, the appendices include source material for each site and monument researched as part of this thesis.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Anthropology



Date Submitted


Document Type





Maya, Parentage Statements, Paired Stelae, Calakmul, La Corona, Tonina



Included in

Anthropology Commons