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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Mayan Cylindrical Vases : Mayan Cylindrical Vessel
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Mayan Cylindrical Vessel - PF.4528
Origin: Guatemala
Circa: 500 AD to 900 AD
Dimensions: 7.5" (19.1cm) high
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Style: Mayan
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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The Maya artists produced some of the most intriguing, elegant and puzzling iconographic art in the world. Within a given format the highly skilled artists allowed their creativity to flow with astonishing sensitivity, gracefulness and even humor. According to one theory the painting on terracotta cylinders were never designed to be read as a narrative, but functioned to transform an ordinary container into an object that focuses power through ritual. We might also add that beauty is in itself as a transformation act, which can empower an object by its purity and perfection. This very handsome cylinder was probably used to hold a chocolate drink, regarded as more precious than gold, and therefore owned by someone of wealth and status. There are two main panels with nearly identical figures, shown from the waist up wearing a fantastic costume alive with color and movement. Both figures probably represent the same king depicted in a ritual act of accession, bloodletting or trance-like state in communion with the gods. The two vertical panels containing four glyphs resemble those for naming days of special ceremonies. Whatever its exact meaning, it is certainly true that the noble person who owned this cylinder understood the significance of the figures, enjoyed the vessel's elegance and felt its power, while sipping the precious liquid. - (PF.4528)


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