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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Mayan Cylindrical Vases : Mayan Polychrome Engraved Cylindrical Vase
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Mayan Polychrome Engraved Cylindrical Vase - PF.4479
Origin: Guatemala
Circa: 500 AD to 900 AD
Dimensions: 7.5" (19.1cm) high
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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Mayan pottery presents some of the most beautiful and mysterious figural painting in all Pre-Columbian art. In the years 550 - 700 A.D. a type of pottery known as Saxche Orange Polychrome made its appearance. A burgeoning class of elite individuals during this period created a demand for high quality ceramic items; some used as funerary vessels, and others for domestic use. It can be imagined that such an exquisite vase as this may have been for purely decorative purposes. With its distinctly brilliant red-orange shade, it would have made an attractive ornament for a wealthy home. However, the painted figures may hold a deeper and more important secret. We see in the center panel a very elaborate scene. The central character is a man seen from the side. He stares inquisitively at a jungle-like setting of exotic and mythical animals, intertwined with complex network of patterns and designs. He may represent a shaman or sorcerer peering into the netherworld of fantastic spirit creatures. Caught in this wonderful labyrinth is also a woman, who appears to have a headdress and is bare, chested, with her breasts clearly demarcated with a double line of black. She is perhaps a sorceress or representation of a female deity. Whatever its symbolic meaning, the beauty of this vase shines clearly and will certainly be enjoyed as a lovely work of art- cherished today as it was over a thousand years ago. - (PF.4479)


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