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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Mayan Cylindrical Vases : Mayan Cylindrical Tripod Vase with Jaguar Handles
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Mayan Cylindrical Tripod Vase with Jaguar Handles - PF.4478
Origin: Guatemala
Circa: 500 AD to 1000 AD
Dimensions: 4.5" (11.4cm) high
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: UAE
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Though much of Maya religion and art is not fully understood, the ceramic objects that have survived reveal a lot about their rituals and beliefs. Kings who exercised absolute authority by divine right, and promoted their rule through the propaganda tool of art ruled Maya society. Ritual ceremonies of bloodletting, accessions of kings, marriage alliances, and the famous Maya ball game were recorded for posterity on a grand scale, such as wall relief’s or on the more intimate surfaces of ceramics. Maya artists were not given a free hand to explore their own imagination. They worked within established conventions to produce an iconography that was equal to a visual language. The design pattern on this charming bowl appears to be directly related to the function of the vessel. The entire surface is covered with symbols, which are so intricate they seem to comprise a single image. The fact it is self-standing on short legs, and has holes through the heads of the two jaguars, suggests a ritual use. This impression is given further weight by the fact it contains beads or small pellets that rattle when shaken. As a funerary object it could stand on a table or be hung from a ceiling, holding herbs or a special liquid. It might also be suggested that its size and shape would make a perfect container for paint, perhaps used by artists working on a mural. Whatever its exact use, it has a feel of intimacy; a very personal quality some objects possess which immediately gives a feeling of warmth and pleasure. - (PF.4478)


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