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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Mayan Cylindrical Vases : Mayan Babilonia Painted Cylindrical Vessel
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Mayan Babilonia Painted Cylindrical Vessel - PF.6081
Origin: Honduras
Circa: 300 AD to 900 AD
Dimensions: 7.75" (19.7cm) high
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta


Location: United States
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Description
This vessel exudes a mysterious energy, an ancient intangible potency that is as radiant today as the day it was fired. Much like we can conceive of spirits haunting the earth after their bodily demise, ancient spiritual powers continue to inhabit certain sacred object long after the civilization that created them has faded away. This cylindrical container is certainly one such object. Decorated with highly unusual imagery, this vessel delights us with its design, simultaneously simple and complex. The main panel is composed of a large, simian figure. However, wearing costume generally associated with rulers and shamans, this figure might be a Mayan king disguised as a monkey, playing a role in an ancient religious ceremony. In between this figure, are two S-shaped motifs, turned on their sides. Identical banners frame the top and bottom of the central panel, composed of alternating representations a marvelously styled human face and a highly detailed, highly abstracted saurian head. What are the relations of these varying elements and what is the meaning of this work? Unfortunately, without the aid of glyphic texts, the meaning of the painted imagery remains obscure. This masterful work of ancient Mayan pottery must have played a vital role in a long forgotten ceremony. Its importance is reflected both in its tremendous craftsmanship as well as the glyphs that adorn it. Found in the tomb of an ancient ruler or dignitary, this vessel was as essential to the ancient Mayan in the next world as it was in this one. - (PF.6081)

 

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