Cylindrical Vessel, Ceramic, slip, pigment, Maya

Cylindrical Vessel

7th–8th century
Guatemala or Mexico, Mesoamerica
Ceramic, slip, pigment
H. 5 1/4 x Diam. 4 1/8 in. (13.3 x 10.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. David Heller, 1983
Accession Number:
Not on view
This cylindrical vessel framed by red bands contains a hieroglyphic text around its rim and shows two seated gods. It is painted in the ‘codex-style’, and the artist used simple shading to emphasize the two figures. The deities could be a version of K’awiil, the Maya god of lightning, as evidenced by the smoking scrolls emerging from their foreheads.
‘Codex-style’ pots are so-called for the style of painting which bears a close resemblance to the four extant screen-fold Maya books, known as codices, located in Madrid, Paris, Dresden, and Mexico City. These books date to the Postclassic Period (ca. a.d. 1000–1492). The characteristics of the codex-style are a cream or yellowish slipped background, often framed by red bands above and below, and a black calligraphic line outlining figures and hieroglyphic texts. Sometimes the painters applied a gray wash to shade figures or other features. In contrast to the richly polychromed vases and bowls from the large corpus of Maya vessels, codex-style pots stand apart in their grayscale, which is almost certainly a reflection of their development vis-à-vis calligraphic books.
Mr. and Mrs. David Heller, Woodmere, NY, until 1983