Quantcast
Videos ()
How, When, and Why African Art Came to New York: A Conversation

Close

Double-Chambered Vessel

Date:
5th century
Geography:
Guatemala or Mexico, Mesoamerica
Culture:
Maya
Medium:
Ceramic
Dimensions:
H. 11 7/8 x W. 7 3/4 x D. 5 1/4 in. (30.2 x 19.7 x 13.3 cm)
Classification:
Ceramics-Containers
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1963
Accession Number:
1978.412.90a, b
  • Description

    The cylindrical shape and pedestal feet of this double-chambered Maya vessel may be the result of the stylistic influence of Teotihuacan, the most powerful Mesoamerican site at the time this object was created. The iconography and inventiveness of form, however, are purely Maya. Although this object appears to be two joined lidded containers, only that with the human figure atop has a removable lid. This vessel, which is appropriate for holding liquid, functioned as a burial offering and was placed inside a tomb. The scene on the vessel–an oversized, masked raptorial bird and a human figure holding an offering to the avian creature, seem to derive from Maya myth. The two cylinders of the vessel, appear to be held together, by the outstretched body of the jaguar; a creature of supernatural power and ability in ancient Mesoamerica, associated with both strength and fertility. Positive identifications of the supernatural beings that populated the Maya otherworld are problematic given the lack of literary texts contemporary with such objects as this double-cylinder. It has, however, been suggested that the masked bird is Vucub Caquix, a character known from the Popol Vuh, a sixteenth-century Maya text.

  • Provenance

    [Aaron Furman Gallery, New York, until 1962]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1962, on loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1962–63; The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1963–78

  • See also
    Who
    What
    Where
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
310542

Close