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Cylindrical Vessel: Mythological Scene

Location

GUATEMALA, PETÉN

Era

Classic Period (250-950 C.E.)

Culture

Maya

Title

Cylindrical Vessel: Mythological Scene

Date

600-850 C.E.

Materials

Earthenware, slip, polychrome painted decoration

Dimensions

18.9 cm (h.), 16.3 cm (diam.)

Credits

Gift of Gerald Benjamin, inv. 2007.354

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

Scenes showing mythological events, such as the creation of the world, are common in Maya ceramics. The main protagonists of the one painted on this vase are three deities, or three manifestations of the same deity, embodied by an old man whose attributes refer to the sun. Each interacts with an animal or fantastic creature that personifies one of the three levels – the sky, the earthly surface, and the underworld – the sun passes through on its daily path. The moon, symbolized by a winged disc, and a bird, alluding to the night sky, face another figure, which has the face of a young man. The cob on the latter’s forehead indicates he is the god of maize, the sacred plant from which humans were formed.

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