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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Mayan Cylindrical Vases : Babilonia Polychrome Cylindrical Vessel
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Babilonia Polychrome Cylindrical Vessel - PF.5624
Origin: Honduras
Circa: 700 AD to 850 AD
Dimensions: 7" (17.8cm) high
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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Much like some believe ancient spirits continue to haunt the earth long after their death, sacred objects continue to retain their spiritual powers, accumulated through centuries of reverence, long after the civilization that created them fades into oblivion. This object is one such example. Babilonia polychrome is the distinctive painted, pictorial style of pottery made in northeastern Honduras. The people of this region created a culture that drew from indigenous traditions (specifically relating to the Lenca people who inhabit this region) combined with influences from their powerful Mayan neighbors as well as others. This vessel merges a Mayan style composition and painting technique with imagery representing the religious mythology and political ideologies of the Lenca. However, because very few Lenca survived contact with the Spaniard Conquistadors, little is known of their ancient beliefs and social structure. This vessel is decorated with a figure seated in right profile repeated four times along the central band. The figure holds up a small black object that, due to its circular element, recall the hunal royal headband of Classic Maya kings. Furthermore, the figure appears to be sitting upon a black- spotted orange cushion that may represent the jaguar pelt-covered throne cushions of Maya kings. Two black bands frame this central image. Each is embellished with right-profile decapitated human heads with closed eyes. These likely represent trophy heads, a symbol of war prowess sometime seen in Classic Maya art relating to warriors or military affairs. This vessel may very well then depict a local lord or ruler in the guise of a soldier. Found in a tomb, this vessel was as important in the afterlife as it was in this world. - (PF.5624)


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