Tripod Plate

Date: 9th–10th century

Geography: Mexico, Mesoamerica

Culture: Maya

Medium: Ceramic

Dimensions: H. 2 1/2 x Diam. 10 7/8 in. (6.4 x 27.6 cm)

Classification: Ceramics-Containers

Credit Line: Gift of Arthur M. Bullowa, 1989

Accession Number: 1989.314.20


Referred to by archaeologists as slateware, this ceramic vessel is a variety that was especially popular in northern Yucatan in the centuries around the turn of the second millennium A.D. The subdued colors of slateware, ranging from pale beige-whites to soft grays, are in marked contrast to the vibrant Maya polychrome ceramics of earlier times. As in this example, the decoration is often restrained. The image that adorns the inner surface of this tripod plate recalls the Mesoamerican rain deity with his round goggle eyes and toothy mouth. Applied with a fluid, spontaneous brushstroke, the viscosity of the "trickle" paint causes it to run when first applied, contributing to the organic nature of the painted motif.