The Maya in their great temple cities reached the summit of the Classical age in Ancient Meso-America. In those temple cities, great artistic expressions such as murals and sculptures flourished. It is during this classical period in which artists created magnificent polychrome vessels that depict various Mayan figures and hieroglyphs.
This cylindrical vessel is a fine example of such creations. Dressed in warm earthy tones and decorated with intricately painted figures and glyphs, the vessel radiates with its subtle and yet poignant beauty. The vessel shows four seated dignitaries performing a ritual. Finely painted, the four men wear ceremonial costumes consisting of elaborate headdresses with feather panache, beaded necklaces, ear-flares, wrist-cuffs, and knotted, sash cloth. Two dignitaries sit in front of ritually significant items, a zoomorphic effigy vessel and a polychrome vessel, looking down at them intently. The delicate hand gestures are beautifully depicted, with each finger defined with clarity. The top portion of the vessel is enhanced with a band of hieroglyphs that perhaps indicate the meaning of the otherwise esoteric pictorial ritual scene. Moreover, the fine dark lines successfully indicate the curves of human body and gesture movements. As we look upon this vessel, we feel as if we are standing in a Mayan temple, watching a ritual in progress. Hundreds of years after the vessel’s creation, we still appreciate its beauty that is sure to last for ages to come.