Tetrapod Bowl, Ceramic, Maya

Tetrapod Bowl

1st–4th century
Guatemala, Mesoamerica
H. 5 1/2 in. (14 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Arthur M. Bullowa, 1982
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 358
Wide-mouthed bowls or plates are believed to have been used as presentation or serving vessels. Those raised on four bulbous feet are identified with the Maya lowlands of Mexico and Guatemala in the earliest centuries A.D. and include a rather showy type surfaced with an arresting, bright orange-red slip, as seen here. The surface is continuous, even, and smooth in color; the shape is clean lined and well balanced. This type of vessel represents a considerable display of proficiency in the art and technique of the potter and was valued as a precious object at the time of manufacture. Other ceramics of specialized shape and size were finished with the same orange-red surface color. Perhaps suites of similarly hued ceramic containers were particularly meaningful together. This example has dark gray firing-clouds on the bottom of the feet, the only change in color from smooth orange-red on the vessel.
Arthur M. Bullowa, New York, until 1982

Schmidt, Peter, Mercedes de la Garza, and Enrique Nalda. Maya: Exhibition at the Palazzo Grassi in 1998. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1998.

Fields, Virginia M., and Dorie Reents-Budet. Lords of Creation: The Origins of Sacred Maya Kingship. London and Los Angeles: Scala Publishers Limited, 2005.