Certainly one of the most famous figural Mayan sculptures and the inspiration for the play.
The historical records of K´inich K´an Joy Chitam have been centered mainly around one single monument found at Toniná an archeological site in the Ocosingo Valley of Chiapas. This monument shows the Ruler of Palenque bound as a prisoner together with a short text indicating that Toniná had waged war against Palenque
Captives were always represented humiliated, either kneeling or laying on the ground.
The historical interpretation chosen for the play
The following text has been taken from the article Longer live the king:
The questionable demise of K’inich K’an Joy Chitam of Palenque.
By: David Stuart (University of Texas).
Peter Mathews was the first to see that the bound yet richly dressed captive named by the three glyphs on his leg was the Palenque king K’inich K’an Joy Chitam (see Becquelin and Baudez 1982:846).
The accompanying caption features a “star” verb for war, and naturally suggests that the Palenque ruler was captured by Tonina on 126.96.36.199.3 13 Ak’b’al 16 Yax (711AD), the widely accepted placement for the Mayan Calendar recorded on the panel (Mathews 2001).
From this it has often been assumed that K’inich K’an Joy Chitam was sacrificed soon thereafter (Schele and Freidel 1990:424), and the lack of a death record for him in Palenque’s texts seemed to agree with this long-held interpretation.
In this note I would like to raise questions about such widely accepted interpretations of the history of Palenque and Tonina. I do not cast doubt on the general significance of monument 122 as a historical record of K’inich K’an Joy Chitam’s subjugation by Tonina, but I do suggest that the king may have continued to live and rule for nearly a decade beyond his supposed demise.
Schele (1992) in fact first raised the possibility that K’inich K’an Joy Chitam (whom she called “Kan-Hox-Xul”) lived well beyond his capture.