At the height of their empire, the Maya captured
the myths, rituals, and humor of life on vividly
painted pottery. Because these vessels were often
buried with their aristocratic owners, it is
possible to glimpse Mayan life in all its diversity.
Here, beneath a frieze of glyphs, three richly
dressed individuals (perhaps players in the ritual
ballgame) are shown offering sacrifice to demons
of the underworld. The importance of this vessel
to its ancient owners is indicated by the four
holes bored near the rim; in the absence of glue
in antiquity, pottery repairs were made by tying
pieces together with leather thongs. Clearly this
splendid vessel was valued in its own age. The
passage of time has made it even more precious
as a record of a vanished world.