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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Mayan Cylindrical Vases : Mayan Painted Terracotta Conical Vessel
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Mayan Painted Terracotta Conical Vessel - DA.390
Origin: El Salvador/Guatemala/Honduras
Circa: 500 AD to 800 AD
Dimensions: 6" (15.2cm) high x 6" (15.2cm) wide
Style: Copador
Medium: Terracotta


Location: United States
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Description
Representing an elite member of the Mayan hierarchy, this vessel is decorated with a seated figure who appears to have a Mona Lisa smile. The image is repeated seven times around the rim of the vessel with arms and legs (somewhat indistinguishable from one another) outstretched as if making an offering.

The happy figure wears a headdress indicative of a chieftain or shaman, with long feathers that protrude from the back of the head and project forward over the face, and other items of ceremonial costume. Each figure also bears a large red dot on his face and a red circle on his one exposed foot, possibly a tattoo.

There is also an instrument, writing tablet or mirror in front of each figure. The importance of the vessel, its purpose and the depiction is emphasized by two rows of untranslated incantation around the top and bottom of the conical jar. Discovered in a tomb, buried alongside a fallen important dignitary, this mesmerizing bowl would have had a ceremonial function.

The conical jar is buff polished terracotta except for the two untreated rows of inscription. The pictures on the website show the jar without restoration. The vessel has now been slightly restored with insignificant consequence to its value. - (DA.390)

 

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