Mayan Polychrome Cylindrical Vessel

SKU PF.3466

500 AD to 900 AD


7″ (17.8cm) high





Gallery Location



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 crated magnificent polychrome vessels that depict various Mayan figures and hieroglyphs. This cylindrical vessel is a fine example of such creations, dressed in warm orange color and decorated with intricately painted figures and glyphs, the vessel radiates with its subtle and yet poignant beauty. It shows three men performing a ritual, sacrificing the head of a victorious ball player. The three men wear ceremonial costumes, possibly the proper attire for the ritual. The ankle cuffs, large neckwear, headdresses, and wrist cuffs are great clues for us to understand and envision the Ancient Maya cultural practices. Moreover, the painted fluid, gesture lines form expressive figures and hieroglyphs. Such line quality successfully indicates the curves of the human body, swift movements of ritual performers, and even the gushing flow of blood from the severed head. As we look onto this vessel, we feel as if we are standing in a Mayan temple, watching the sacrificial ritual. Hundreds of years after the vessel’s creation, we still appreciate its beauty that is sure to last for ages to come.

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