Spouted Jar

Date: mid-1st century B.C.–A.D. 1st century

Geography: Guatemala or Mexico, Mesoamerica

Culture: Maya

Medium: Indurated limestone

Dimensions: H. 5 in. (12.7 cm)

Classification: Stone-Containers

Credit Line: Gift of Charles and Valerie Diker, 1999

Accession Number: 1999.484.3


The complex design on the body of this vessel includes a figure on each side, one facing up, the other down. The identification of the figures is uncertain, although elements of "wind" and "maize" are present. Sinuous, volutelike masses nearly overwhelm the figures: only their heads, hands, and feet can be easily discerned in the rhythmical rendering of the composition. The specificity of these figures contrasts with the repetitive abstraction of the rim decoration, with in-curving spiral brackets and a T-shape motif that may be an early form of the Maya hieroglyph for wind. A hieroglyphic inscription appears on the spout; while not fully deciphered, it contains a dedication of the vessel. Carved from indurated (compacted) limestone, the vessel is a rare example of such a spouted container in stone. Exceptional works in stone of this sort are identified with the Mexico-Guatemala highlands during the centuries when the great sites of Kaminaljuyú and Izapa flourished.