Maya peoples / Vessel with Mythological Scene / 8th centuryMaya peoples
Vessel with Mythological Scene
8th century

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Creator Nationality: North American; Central American; Mesoamerican; Mayan
Creator Name-CRT: Maya peoples
Title: Vessel with Mythological Scene
View: Alternate View
Creation Start Date: 700
Creation End Date: 799
Creation Date: 8th century
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Vessels
Materials and Techniques: ceramic
Dimensions: H. 5 1/2 in. (14 cm)
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1978.412.206
Credit Line: The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Purchase, Nelson A. Rockefeller Gift, 1968

During the eighth century the ancient Maya made numerous straight-sided ceramic vessels that were painted around the outside with elaborate, multifigured scenes. Many of the scenes were mythological in content, depicting events that took place in the underworld, the realm of the Lords of Death. Such a scene is illustrated here, in a monochrome painting or drawing in what is called the 'codex style,' because of its similarity to that of the few Precolumbian Maya books, or codices, that exist today. Codex-style vessels are thought to have been made in the north-central part of the Petén.

The animated scene shows a lively, dancing figure holding a long-handled axe behind him in his right hand, and a raised handstone in his left. In front of him on a monster-head altar lies a deity figure known as Baby Jaguar. On the other side of the altar appears, also dancing, a skeletal death figure with arms outstretched. While the scene has been interpreted as one of sacrifice, another interpretation holds that it is one of celebration.

AMICA ID: MMA_.1978.412.206
AMICA Library Year: 2000
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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