Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Tetrapod Jar

200 B.C.–A.D. 1
El Salvador or Guatemala, Mesoamerica
H. 5 1/2 in. (14 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Arthur M. Bullowa, 1982
Accession Number:
Not on view
This bowl is part of a group of ceramic vessels called Usulután based on superficial resemblances in surface decoration. The technique employed here, termed "resist," results in a two-color patterning. The method of achieving the color separation differs within the Usulután group and, in some instances, is yet to be understood. Usulután vessels were made during the centuries before and after the turn of the first millennium—a period of innovation in ceramic form and decoration—in the southernmost part of the Maya highlands (southeastern Guatemala, western Honduras, and El Salvador). They were widely disbursed from there. Archaeologists have long thought that the distribution of Usulután vessels was tied to the migrations of peoples or perhaps to invasions. More recently, it has been proposed that these ceramics were much admired in their time and thus widely traded. The present example sits on four small feet, early evidence of what would later become a fascination with substantive, elaborated feet on bowls of all sorts.
Arthur M. Bullowa, New York, until 1982

Related Objects

Censer, Seated King

Date: 4th century Medium: Ceramic Accession: 1999.484.1a, b On view in:Gallery 358

Vessel, Mythological Scene

Date: 7th–8th century Medium: Ceramic Accession: 1978.412.206 On view in:Gallery 358

Double-Chambered Vessel

Date: 5th century Medium: Ceramic Accession: 1978.412.90a, b On view in:On view

Tripod Bird Bowl

Date: 3rd–4th century Medium: Ceramic Accession: 1984.614a, b On view in:Gallery 358


Date: 6th century Medium: Wood, red hematite Accession: 1979.206.1063 On view in:Gallery 358