Funerary Vessel (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

AD 700 - 800
terracotta with polychrome pigments
Mexico or Guatemala, Mesoamerica, Central America
Overall: 9 5/16 × 5 9/16 in. (23.65 × 14.13 cm)

This cylindrical drinking vase is a superb example of low-fired Maya ceramics. The artist used water-based clay slip to paint over the lighter clay base to create the rich red hues of the hieroglyphs and background of the narrative scene.

The imagery painted on this vessel illustrates three important members of the Maya pantheon. The first is most likely a scribe. Two figures are seated across from the scribe on a throne decorated with cosmic symbols identifying their place in the heavens. The figure directly across from the scribe is Itzamna, the supreme Maya god, known as the paramount sky deity who invented writing. Behind Itzamna sits the Moon Goddess, identified by the crescent moon directly behind her.

Late Classic
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund
2018: Collecting for the Commonwealth Preserving for the Nation, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1919-2018, Winter Antiques Show, Park Avenue Armory, New York City, NY, January 18 - 26, 2018.
"Feast," Museum News May/June 2006, p. 25, color ill.

Mary Miller and Simon Martin, Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya, exhibition catalogue (San Francisco: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in asso. with Thames & Hudson, 2004) p. 118, color pl. 61, 2 views.

Evan Maurer and Molly Hennen, Symboles Sacrés Quatre mille ans d'art des Amériques (Paris: Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 2002) p. 104, cat. no. 73, color ill.
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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