Mayan Polychrome Bowl

SKU PF.5650

300 AD to 900 AD


2.5″ (6.4cm) high x 7.75″ (19.7cm) wide




El Salvador

Gallery Location



The majority of the painting on this vessel is dedicated to a sequence of glyphs. A swirling wave-like glyph repeated three times fills a band on the interior rim of the bowl. This glyph is attached on the left to another glyph that looks like the letter “C.” Various black and red rings frame this band of Mayan text. The exterior is decorated by an upper band of glyphs, while the lower half of the bowl is adorned by a pattern of red and black overlapping semicircles imitating the scales of a fish or serpent. The same band of glyphs appears above as on the inside, only this time reversed. What was the relationship between these symbols? What do they stand for? There was a level of sophistication achieved in the Mayan alphabet that, unfortunately, we are unable to fully comprehend its subtle intricacies. Discovered inside of a tomb, buried alongside a fallen ruler or dignitary, this vessel was as essential in the afterlife as it was in this world.

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