Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Lidded Vessel

Date:
3rd–4th century
Geography:
Guatemala, Mesoamerica
Culture:
Maya
Medium:
Ceramic, slip, pigment
Dimensions:
Height 11-1/2 in. (29.2 cm) Diameter: 14 1/2 in.
Classification:
Ceramics-Containers
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Morris A. Long, 1987
Accession Number:
1987.450.2a, b
Not on view
This large, lidded polychrome bowl has an anular base, a basal flange, and a rattle handle. The artist decorated the surface in a cream slip and a complex scene involving anthropomorphic acrobats in red, orange, and blue-green, outlined in black. The inner base of the bowl is also decorated with the image of a standing figure in costume. Disembodied heads line the base of the lid’s handle, which is also decorated with spiraling lines of green and red. The fugitive green pigment on this vessel faded to a gray-ish shade at present.

Two acrobats on the wall of the main bowl chamber and two on the sloping lid strike poses with their torsos on the ground, arms extended in front of them, while lifting one leg into the air and placing the other knee on the ground. They are adorned with jewelry, body paint, and elaborate headdresses. Acrobats such as these, often reaching their feet towards their heads, appear in Mesoamerican art from the 1st millennium B.C., and in Maya art the Maize God is often performing such feats.

The interior of the bowl contains the image of a standing ruler, adorned with a headdress with elaborate spirals, trumpet shapes, and spiky feather finials. The figure wears a belt with a representation of a jade head pendant, below which dangle two elliptical celts. In the rulers hand is a thin spear. The erosion of the central portion of the bowl perhaps indicates that the pottery was in use to hold food or liquids before it was deposited in the tomb of an important individual.

James Doyle, 2016
Mr. and Mrs. Morris Long, Lakewood, CO, until 1987

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