Censer Support, Ceramic, Maya

Censer Support

mid-7th–9th century
Mexico, Mesoamerica
H. 21 1/4 x W. 11 3/8 x D. 13 3/4 in. (54 x 28.9 x 34.9 cm)
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Wielgus, 1963
Accession Number:
Not on view
This hand-modeled flanged ceramic cylinder would have supported a bowl for the burning of incense for ritual purposes. A high-relief standing figure with a looped motif between his eyes, which is thought to relate to the Maya god of the sun, is depicted on the front. The figure is flanked by two smaller staff-bearing, animal-masked figures shown in profile. All three figures are positioned atop the carapace of a turtle out of the front of which emerges a human head, probably a representation of a Maya underworld deity. Turtle shells were regarded as metaphors for the earth, their openings viewed as analogous to those of caves. The combination of sun and underworld references suggests a cosmogram of the supernatural realm.
Raymond and Laura Wielgus, Chicago, 1959–1963; The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1963–1978

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Art of Oceania, Africa, and the Americas from the Museum of Primitive Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1969, no. 624.