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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Miscellaneous : Pre-Columbian / Maya / Mayan Terracotta Quadruped Urn
Pre-Columbian / Maya / Mayan Terracotta Quadruped Urn - PF.2494
Origin: Guatemala
Circa: 500 AD to 900 AD
Dimensions: 11.25" (28.6cm) high x 14.5" (36.8cm) wide
Catalogue: V14
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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This dramatic funerary urn features an assortment of molded images on its exterior surface, components of the complex Mayan symbolic language. For the Ancient Mayans death was a journey, a series of trials with the lords of death. If defeated, the soul faced eternal extinction and burial in the evil world of Xibalba. However, if the deceased won, he or she would be able to leave Xibalba to take his or her place among other re-born ancestors, to assist and guide their descendants. The special imagery of death in Ancient Mayan culture is depicted on funerary art such as this extraordinary urn. Though its explicit may be uncertain today, the powerful images nevertheless continue to manifest a magical and spirited aura. Here on the urn we see a large face, the most imposing image on the vessel. With wide-open eyes and mouth agape, revealing large teeth, the face presents a most impressive image. A curving band-and-bead border surrounds the striking image, emphasizing its dynamic presence. To the left, a squatting figure appears, holding a hanging object in his right hand. The direction of his upraised arm leads our eye to the next image on the urn, a standing male figure with hands at his waist. His naked maleness, possibly representing fertility, is clearly the focus of our attention. To his left we explore a fascinating facial image, whose features hint at those of both a man and feline, possibly a jaguar. Yet another squatting figure next appears on the urn, his right arm reaching out to touch a bird, complete with dramatic tail feathers and large open beak. A molded rope and loop decoration appears next to the bird and finally another male figure appears, also with his erect maleness the focus of our attention. Dramatic and powerful imagery on this Ancient Mayan funerary urn truly captures our imagination, compelling us to commune with the spirits of the Ancient Mayans who created this potent work of art. - (PF.2494)


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