Thursday, February 23, 2012
Ajaw (also ahau or ahaw in the older orthography) is a political rulership title attested from the epigraphic inscriptions of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization, with a meaning variously interpreted as "lord", "ruler", "king" or "leader". It denoted any of the leading class of nobles in a particular polity and was not limited to a single individual. Since the ajaw performed religious activities, it also designated a member of the Maya priesthood. The variant kuhul ajaw ("divine lord") indicates a sovereign leader of a polity, although the extent of the territory and influence controlled by an ajaw varied considerably, and could also be applied to persons who in theory recognised the overlordship of another person, dynasty or state. The title was also given to women, though generally prefixed with the sign Ix ("woman") to indicate their gender.