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Maya Polychrome Vessel w/ Enema Ritual Scene

Pre-Columbian, Mexico and northern Central America, Mayan Territories, Late Classic, ca. 550 to 900 CE. A fascinating ceramic vessel decorated with an elaborate scene of a prostrate lord performing a religious ritual by giving himself an enema on one side of its exterior. A chocolate brown line rings the unpronounced rim and the base, forming a border around this scene. It is well documented that the ancient Maya used enemas ritually to introduce potent alcohol and hallucinogenic substances into the bloodstream (via the colon, where the substances can be absorbed rapidly and without loss of potency). This was done for the purpose of inducing an altered state of consciousness, whereby the participant could engage in powerful shamanic visions. Size: 5.8" W x 2.6" H (14.7 cm x 6.6 cm)

Such enema use was but one of the many exceedingly risky ways by which the ancient Maya sought to shock their bodies for the purpose of inducing altered states of consciousness and visions. The risks associated underscore the importance they placed on such ritual activities, as well as the seriousness with which they approached them. Vessels depicting these enema ritual scenes are relatively rare.

See Peter deSmet’s important work "Ritual Enemas and Snuffs in the Americas", pages 233 and 234, for comparable examples of this exact type of scene on Maya vessels, and for excellent scholarly information on this little-known subject related to ancient Maya ritual.

Condition: With an unrepaired, stable crack on one side. Nice preservation of motifs, with light deposits, especially on the interior.

Provenance: ex-private T.S. collection, San Diego County, California, USA, acquired between 25 and 40 years ago

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