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Mayan Ulua Valley Pottery Polychrome Cylinder

Pre-Columbian, Honduras, Ulua Valley, Mayan, ca. 550 to 900 CE. A sublime polychrome pottery cylinder, finely painted in hues of red, orange, and chocolate brown on a cream ground, with an impressive iconographic program comprised of a large central register that features six amorous couples dressed in elaborate headdresses and ornate regalia, separated into pairs that alternate with three bold abstract, maze/meander-like glyphs. Above and below are narrower registers of repeated glyphs depicting stylized heads with ornate headdresses. For the Maya, extraordinary painted ceramic vases like this example were gifted to elite individuals, akin to the gifts exchanged between high profile dignitaries today. A very similar example may be found in the collection of the San Diego Museum of Man. Size: 5.875" in diameter x 6.5" H (14.9 cm x 16.5 cm)

According to the Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education scholars Dorie Reents-Budet and Ronald Bishop, "Today, when high-profile foreign dignitaries visit the White House, they can expect to attend grand dinners and to receive gifts, often custom-made by the best artists in the country. The gifts honor the visitor and showcase the giver's fine taste. In the days of the Classic Maya (250-900 CE), state-level gift-giving was little different, and no gift reflected more meaning or artistic expertise than the painted ceramic vase. Twenty years ago, the hieroglyphs, images, and even origins of these extraordinary vessels were little known. Now, advances in decipherment and chemical technology have made these vases invaluable for exploring the economic, political, and social exploits of the Maya. The vases, used both to serve food at feasts and as gifts presented at such events, were created by highly skilled painters who had mastered the intricacies of Classic Maya religious mythology, ideology, and history, and used hieroglyphic writing as both communication and visual poetry. Artists were highly regarded and often members of elite families." (Archaeology Archive, Vol. 56,Number 2, March/April 2003, abstract)

Condition: Intact and choice. Nice areas of mineral deposits.

Provenance: Ex-private Scollard collection, acquired before 1990

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