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Lidded vessel with mythological turtle


Not on view

Artists created elaborate feasting vessels with animal-headed knobs, flattening the creatures’ bodies into painted or incised decoration on the lids. Noisy inhabitants of lowland Maya forests, howler monkeys were revered creatures associated with both the day and the night. Other animals include a peccary, or wild pig, as well as mythical beings such as a turtle with a human head emerging from the mouth.

Vasija con tapa con tortuga mítico
Estructura F8-1, El Zotz, Guatemala
Siglo IV

Los artistas crearon vasijas festivas muy elaboradas, con agarraderas en forma de cabezas de animales cuyos cuerpos pintaban o esgrafiaban sobre las tapas. Entre otros, figuran los pecarís, o cerdos salvajes, y los monos aulladores. Estos bulliciosos habitantes de la selva de las Tierras Bajas mayas eran criaturas veneradas y asociadas tanto al día como a la noche. Otras figuras refieren seres míticos, como la tortuga de cuya boca emerge una cabeza humana.

Lidded vessel with mythological turtle, Ceramic, Maya

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© Authorized reproduction Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes de Guatemala; Museo de Arqueología y Etnología, photo by Jorge Perez de Lara