What exactly is this person doing?

The scene represents a bloodletting ritual performed by the king of Yaxchilán, Shield Jaguar the Great (681-742), and his wife, Lady K’ab’al Xook (Itzamnaaj Bahlen III). The king holds a flaming torch over his wife, who is pulling a thorny rope through her tongue. Scrolls of blood can be seen around her mouth. (x)

Bloodletting was an essential part of being Maya royalty. This formidable ordeal mirrors the sacrifice involved in the Mayan story of creation, where the gods let their blood to create humans. The pierced tongue of Lady Xook enables her blood to flow as part of a ritual communication with spirits and gods.

By choosing to take part in the ritual, the queen demonstrated both her moral and physical strength to the people, and her suitability as a Maya royal. (x)

This particular limestone lintel (which you can see the full image of here) is considered one of the masterpieces of Maya art, and was originally one of a series of three panels at Yaxchilán.
Courtesy & currently located at the British Museum, London. Photo taken by KateMonkey.

What exactly is this person doing?

The scene represents a bloodletting ritual performed by the king of Yaxchilán, Shield Jaguar the Great (681-742), and his wife, Lady K’ab’al Xook (Itzamnaaj Bahlen III). The king holds a flaming torch over his wife, who is pulling a thorny rope through her tongue. Scrolls of blood can be seen around her mouth. (x)

Bloodletting was an essential part of being Maya royalty. This formidable ordeal mirrors the sacrifice involved in the Mayan story of creation, where the gods let their blood to create humans. The pierced tongue of Lady Xook enables her blood to flow as part of a ritual communication with spirits and gods.

By choosing to take part in the ritual, the queen demonstrated both her moral and physical strength to the people, and her suitability as a Maya royal. (x)

This particular limestone lintel (which you can see the full image of here) is considered one of the masterpieces of Maya art, and was originally one of a series of three panels at Yaxchilán.

Courtesy & currently located at the British Museum, London. Photo taken by KateMonkey.

Sculpted details from the Mayan archaeological site of Copán, Honduras.

Copán was occupied for over 2,000 years, from the Early Preclassic period through to the Postclassic. The city is on the frontier of the Isthmo-Colombian cultural region, making it located in the extreme southeast of the Mesoamerican cultural region.

As shown in the examples above, Copán developed a distinctive sculptural style within the tradition of the lowland Maya.

Photos courtesy & taken by Michael Swigart.

Chacmool statue on the top of the Temple of Warriors in the Chichen Itza complex, Mexico. Mayan, dates to the Late Classic-Early Postclassic.
Chacmool is the term used to refer to these particular reclining pre-Columbian Mesoamerican sculptures, which are often associated with thrones or sacrificial stones. This Chacmool statue is leaning towards the entrance of the pyramid’s temple, and is at the top of the stairway on the pyramid’s summit. 
With over its nearly 1,000-year history, the sacred site of Chichen Itza was one of the greatest Mayan centres of the Yucatán peninsula. The artistic works and stone monuments reflect and reveal the Maya and Toltec vision of the world and universe. 
Photo courtesy & taken by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen.

Chacmool statue on the top of the Temple of Warriors in the Chichen Itza complex, Mexico. Mayan, dates to the Late Classic-Early Postclassic.

Chacmool is the term used to refer to these particular reclining pre-Columbian Mesoamerican sculptures, which are often associated with thrones or sacrificial stones. This Chacmool statue is leaning towards the entrance of the pyramid’s temple, and is at the top of the stairway on the pyramid’s summit. 

With over its nearly 1,000-year history, the sacred site of Chichen Itza was one of the greatest Mayan centres of the Yucatán peninsula. The artistic works and stone monuments reflect and reveal the Maya and Toltec vision of the world and universe. 

Photo courtesy & taken by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen.

Yaxchilan lintel 15, Maya, Late Classic period (AD 600-900) From Yaxchilán, Mexico. 
A serpent apparition from a Maya temple.

This limestone lintel is one of a series of three panels commissioned by Bird Jaguar IV for Structure 21 at Yaxchilán and was once set above the left (south-east) doorway of the central chamber.
The lintel shows one of Bird Jaguar’s wives, Lady Wak Tuun, during a bloodletting rite. She is carrying a basket with the paraphernalia used for auto-sacrifice: a stingray spine, a rope and bloodied paper. The Vision Serpent appears before her, springing from a bowl, which also contains strips of bark-paper.
Bloodletting was a common practice in Maya life from the Late Preclassic period (400 BC - AD 250) onwards, and an essential part of rulership and of all public rituals. The Maya élite drew blood from various parts of their bodies using lancets made of stingray spine, flint, bone or obsidian. These objects are often found in burials and other archaeological contexts, though other perishable materials, like the rope and the bark-paper strips seen on the lintel, are now lost.
The inscription refers to the bloodletting rite twice in a slightly different form. The date recorded seems to be AD 755. The text that appears between Lady Wak Tuun and the Vision Serpent records her name, titles and her place of origin, Motul de San José. (Text: British Museum)

Courtesy & currently located at the British Museum, London. Photo taken by Snapshooter46.

Yaxchilan lintel 15, Maya, Late Classic period (AD 600-900) From Yaxchilán, Mexico. 

A serpent apparition from a Maya temple.

This limestone lintel is one of a series of three panels commissioned by Bird Jaguar IV for Structure 21 at Yaxchilán and was once set above the left (south-east) doorway of the central chamber.

The lintel shows one of Bird Jaguar’s wives, Lady Wak Tuun, during a bloodletting rite. She is carrying a basket with the paraphernalia used for auto-sacrifice: a stingray spine, a rope and bloodied paper. The Vision Serpent appears before her, springing from a bowl, which also contains strips of bark-paper.

Bloodletting was a common practice in Maya life from the Late Preclassic period (400 BC - AD 250) onwards, and an essential part of rulership and of all public rituals. The Maya élite drew blood from various parts of their bodies using lancets made of stingray spine, flint, bone or obsidian. These objects are often found in burials and other archaeological contexts, though other perishable materials, like the rope and the bark-paper strips seen on the lintel, are now lost.

The inscription refers to the bloodletting rite twice in a slightly different form. The date recorded seems to be AD 755. The text that appears between Lady Wak Tuun and the Vision Serpent records her name, titles and her place of origin, Motul de San José. (Text: British Museum)

Courtesy & currently located at the British Museum, London. Photo taken by Snapshooter46.

The east wall of Chichen Itza’s Great Ball Court, located in the Mexican state of Yucatán -the largest and best preserved ball court in ancient Mesoamerica. 
The wall is 8 meters high, the ring about 6, which is decorated with intertwined feathered serpents. The ballgame in Mayan culture was a sport with ritual associations, relating to the Quichean Twin myth, which links ballcourts with death and its overcoming. In Chichen Itza we can see evidence of the affiliation human sacrifice had with the ballgame, as shown on the ballcourt panels.
Photo courtesy & taken by vintagedept.

The east wall of Chichen Itza’s Great Ball Court, located in the Mexican state of Yucatán -the largest and best preserved ball court in ancient Mesoamerica. 

The wall is 8 meters high, the ring about 6, which is decorated with intertwined feathered serpents. The ballgame in Mayan culture was a sport with ritual associations, relating to the Quichean Twin myth, which links ballcourts with death and its overcoming. In Chichen Itza we can see evidence of the affiliation human sacrifice had with the ballgame, as shown on the ballcourt panels.

Photo courtesy & taken by vintagedept.

Detail from Copán Altar Q, one of the most notable Mayan altars recovered from Copán (present-day Honduras). Discovered by archaeologist Alfred Maudslay in 1886, it is thought to date to 776, and records a dynastic lineage for the Copán-based polity in the Maya script.
Courtesy & currently located at the Copán Sculpture Museum, Honduras. Photo taken by HJPD.

Detail from Copán Altar Q, one of the most notable Mayan altars recovered from Copán (present-day Honduras). Discovered by archaeologist Alfred Maudslay in 1886, it is thought to date to 776, and records a dynastic lineage for the Copán-based polity in the Maya script.

Courtesy & currently located at the Copán Sculpture Museum, Honduras. Photo taken by HJPD.

Lamanai (“submerged crocodile” in Yucatec Maya), is an Mesoamerican archaeological site located north of Belize.
Lamanai was first occupied as early as the 16th century BC, but came into prominence in the Pre-Classic Period, 4th century BC-1st century AD, and continued to be occupied until the 17th century AD.
Photo courtesy & taken by Darcy McCarty.

Lamanai (“submerged crocodile” in Yucatec Maya), is an Mesoamerican archaeological site located north of Belize.

Lamanai was first occupied as early as the 16th century BC, but came into prominence in the Pre-Classic Period, 4th century BC-1st century AD, and continued to be occupied until the 17th century AD.

Photo courtesy & taken by Darcy McCarty.

Mayan Warrior Figurine, AD 550-850 (Late Classic), made of earthenware, post-fire paint.

Among the most renowned of the myriad figurine traditions of Mesoamerica is that of Jaina Island, a residential and funerary settlement adjacent to the coast of west-central Campeche. Jaina Island’s extensive burial grounds have been known since the nineteenth century, but only in the 1940s were they first scientifically excavated. Archaeologists found figurines in the arms of the deceased who had been dressed in their finest clothes and wrapped in cotton burial shrouds and palm-fiber mats.

The renowned Mexico archaeologist Román Piña Chan, the director of excavations at Jaina, has speculated that the figurines served to ensure the deceased’s lifeways and social position in the afterlife. This figurine is notable because it portrays an elderly warrior rather than the robust young combatant so typical of Classic Maya figurines. His identity is confirmed by the flexible, rectangular shield held in his right hand and the quilted armor tunic, both being requisite garb for Maya warriors. He likely represents a captured warrior, defiant yet stately in demeanor, his defeat indicated by the thick rope binding his neck and upper arms. The form of the head suggests that the figure originally was adorned with a removable headdress which has been lost. 

Courtesy & currently located at the Walters Art Museum, USA.