Originally, this vessel would have been used for
consumption of a Mayan concoction made from
cacao and chilies. The exterior has been
decorated with three painted bands. The
narrower upper and lower bands are the same.
They contain an abstracted geometric motif
repeated four times against a black background.
This image appears to be an elaborated
feathered headdress possibly referring to a king
or shaman. Flattened to fit inside the borders of
the band, the design conveys notions of eyes,
nose, and ears. The middle band displays a
beautifully designed bird with its wings splayed
outward. The artist somehow is able to capture
the essence of this creature using purely
geometrical forms. Only the contours of the
talons and head are depicted in a slightly
naturalistic fashion. This bird is repeated four
times against a crimson background, each one
framed by orange triangles. The design elements
of the two images attest to a significant
relationship between the crown and the bird.
Yet, aside from the symbolic significance of the
decorations, there is an inherent beauty to this
vessel that needs no interpretation or definition.