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Funerary Urn: Divinities and Animals

Location

GUATEMALA, HIGHLANDS

Era

Classic Period (250-950 C.E.)

Culture

Maya K’iche’

Title

Funerary Urn: Divinities and Animals

Date

600-950 C.E.

Materials

Earthenware, appliqué and painted decoration

Dimensions

26.8 cm (h.), 39 cm (diam.)

Credits

Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest, inv. 1974.Ac.1

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

Beyond its gastronomic and economic aspects, cocoa held a special place in the imaginations of a number of pre-Columbian peoples. In Maya art, the cacao tree and its fruit appear in numerous scenes, most often in close connection with elements referring to sacrifice, the underworld, or the main cycles that, in Maya thinking, governed the existence of all things. On this funerary urn, a cacao tree is held by a deity personifying the sun at the end of its daily circuit, when it finishes its journey in the underworld and is about to reappear above the earth’s surface. Like other depictions of plants emerging from the bodies of deities and dead ancestors, it alludes to both ending and beginning again, death and rebirth.

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