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Currently shown

Plate: Figure with Mirror

Location

GUATEMALA, PETÉN

Era

Classic Period (250-950 C.E.)

Culture

Maya

Title

Plate: Figure with Mirror

Date

600-850 C.E.

Materials

Earthenware, slip, polychrome painted decoration

Dimensions

5 cm (h.), 32.7 cm (diam.)

Credits

Gift of Gerald Benjamin, inv. 2007.355

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

Many vessels found in Maya graves display intentionally made holes that indicate they were symbolically put to death, suggesting they had once had a useful life. Prior to acting as funerary furnishings, such vessels were indeed utilitarian objects. The most elegant were, first and foremost, created to be used as ceremonial dishes by elites, who showed them off during feasts, celebrations and ritual occasions. They also used them to flaunt their status and privilege. Therefore, Maya fine pottery also became, relatively quickly, a medium for scenes illustrating the deeds of the members of such elites. This figure with a mirror – the divination instrument par excellence – is shown while he is communicating with the world of the ancestors and spirits, if not the gods.

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