Ceramic; H. 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm)
Gift of Charles and Valerie Diker, 1999 (1999.484.2)
Maya polychrome ceramic vessels are not only objects of great beauty, but with the painted renditions of Maya myth and courtly life they also serve as historic documents. Although the significance of the motifs and narratives is often complex, and at times elusive, the painted images include representations of the ancient peoples, their costumes, architecture, and activities. A palace court scene is depicted on the exterior of this cylindrical vessel. An elegant young lord, seated on a throne, wears a grand feathered headdress and a large collar of beads and pendants. Two seated male figures of lesser rank face him, and between them is a vessel shaped much like the one on which they are depicted. It is filled with a foaming liquid probably made of honey or cacao. The depiction of the luxurious life of a wealthy and powerful young man is overlaid with references to death. The vessel is undoubtedly a mortuary offering.