Pre-Columbian, eastern Maya Lowlands, Late Classic Period, ca. 800 to 950 CE. A striking molded cylinder whose central body is decorated with a band of a repeated scene: a lord or a god, depicted wearing a huge, feathered headdress, seated, his body crouched forward, one hand extended, as if in conversation. Each scene is in relief, stunning considering how thin the walls of the vessel are. A band of applied, ovular shapes forms a border between the ring of scenes and the undecorated and unpronounced rim. Size: 6.5" W x 6" H (16.5 cm x 15.2 cm)
For the Maya, extraordinary ceramic vases like this example were gifted to elite individuals, akin to the gifts exchanged between high profile dignitaries today. Vases were a functional gift, created by artist/scribes who came from elite families and who took pains to recreate the stories of Mayan mythology and religion as well as to depict royal and godly personages in their artwork. This artwork reinforced the ruling ideology and reminded the viewer of what was valuable in Mayan society. Today, they teach us about the stories that were important to the Maya and also give us clues to how elite people lived and dressed. Scholars have painstakingly worked to decipher the meaning of the iconography and glyphs painted on cylinder jars, and we know much more about them than we did even twenty years ago.
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex T. Misenhimer collection
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Repaired and restored from multiple pieces, with some overpainting around these repair lines. Three small, stable cracks around the rim. Nice deposits on both interior and exterior.