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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Mayan Cylindrical Vases : Mayan Babilonia Polychrome Cylindrical Vase
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Mayan Babilonia Polychrome Cylindrical Vase - PF.6294
Origin: Honduras
Circa: 300 AD to 900 AD
Dimensions: 7.5" (19.1cm) high
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Painted Terracotta

Location: UAE
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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. Two large figures, dressed in incredibly elaborate feathered costumes, adorn the sides of this vessel. They hold there arms forward, beckoning some higher power in the skies. The face of these mysterious birdmen reoccurs as a pseudo-glyph repeated in the upper band just below the rim. Who are these mysterious creatures? Most likely, due both to their dynamic pose and elegant costumes, these figures represent dancers. However, they might depict a costumed shaman, or even mythological gods? Discovered in a tomb, the plumed figures recall the numerous examples of vessels ornamented with turkeys found at the same site. Perhaps this is the symbolic merger of man and turkey. Although the meaning of this vessel remains mysterious, one can still appreciate its spectacular artistry and the inherent beauty of its painting. - (PF.6294)


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