Pre-Columbian, Mayan, Guatemala, ca. 600 to 950 CE. An important hand-built ritual cylinder in a polychrome finish of red, beige, and black hues with an impressive iconographic program. The exterior walls present two wonderful depictions of a scribe - one on each side - seated on a dais, wearing a loincloth, a beaded neck collar, prominent ear ornaments, and an elaborate headdress. There is also a device or hieroglyphic symbol, perhaps representing a portal to another world, between the figures. A fine example with vibrant colors and excellent brushwork. Size: 3.875" in diameter x 6.125" H (9.8 cm x 15.6 cm)
This example is of museum quality and includes a rollout of its imagery by Justin Kerr - no. K7715. In the 1970s, Justin Kerr collaborated with anthropologist Michael D. Coe to create a book about Mayan pottery vessels. Kerr had to photograph each vessel section by section and have these merged into one by an artist. Since this process was quite painstaking, he created a camera in order to reinvent the art of rollout photography. As per the Maya Vase Database website, "The Maya Vase Database is an archive of rollout and still photographs of vases, plates and bowls, from the various cultures of Mesoamerica. The objects pictured are from archaeological sites, museums and collections throughout Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, the Unites States, Canada and Europe ." (http://www.mayavase.com/)
Scribes played a vital role in the Mayan world. In fact, they were minor royalty, respected for their ability to read and write. Scribes had the power to immortalize a king or queen through their writing, documenting battles, religious favor, and political skill. A finely painted cylindrical vessel like this example would have been used for the ritualistic consumption of the traditional cacao drink.
Sotheby's catalogue entries: May 31st, 1985, lot # 123, NYC, November 20th, 1995, lot # 158, Kerr reference K7715. Comes with Kerr rollout image.
Provenance: private New York, New York, USA collection; Sotheby's catalogue entries: May 31st, 1985, lot # 123, NYC, November 20th, 1995, lot # 158, Kerr reference K7715.
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Expected surface wear with minor pigment loss. Lower section/base reassembled from multiple pieces and reattached. Nice root marks and mineral deposits.