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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Mayan Bowls, Plates and Vessels : Mayan Polychrome Funerary Bowl
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Mayan Polychrome Funerary Bowl - PF.2302
Origin: Guatemala
Circa: 600 AD to 900 AD
Dimensions: 2.875" (7.3cm) high x 12.375" (31.4cm) wide
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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This charmingly rendered funerary bowl is a fine example of the Mayan artisans' ability to capture the animated elements of the natural world. Here we see four dogs playfully chasing each other, their kinetic movements around the interior of the bowl enhancing the wide circular shape of the vessel. Dogs played an important role in Mayan culture for it was believed that canines were both guide and guard for the dead, leading them through the various perils of the underworld. The dogs portrayed on this bowl are of the Mexican hairless type, whose wrinkled gray skin is the color of stone. This distinctive quality has given them their ancient name of Tepescuintl, or Techichi(Tetl, 'stone'; chichi, 'dog'). One early Spanish missionary, Fray Bernardino De Sahagun, mentions them as, "the dogs of the country, totally without hair.... short and round." We do not know whose ancient Mayan soul escaped through the hole in the center of the bowl and is quite possibly being guided by these large-eyed canines at this very moment. But we are able to appreciate and enjoy the aesthetic qualities that make this bowl a testimony to the artistic and mythic sensitivities of the ancient Mayan people. - (PF.2302)


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