Funerary Vessel (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

AD 700–800
terracotta with polychrome pigments
Central America,Mexico or Guatemala,Mesoamerica
Overall: 9 5/16 × 5 9/16 in. (23.65 × 14.13 cm)
Not on view

This cylindrical drinking vase is a superb example of low-fired Maya ceramics. The artist used water-based clay slip to paint over the lighter clay base to create the rich red hues of the hieroglyphs and background of the narrative scene.

The imagery painted on this vessel illustrates three important members of the Maya pantheon. The first is most likely a scribe. Two figures are seated across from the scribe on a throne decorated with cosmic symbols identifying their place in the heavens. The figure directly across from the scribe is Itzamna, the supreme Maya god, known as the paramount sky deity who invented writing. Behind Itzamna sits the Moon Goddess, identified by the crescent moon directly behind her.

Late Classic
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund
2022-2023: Lives of the Gods: Divinity in Maya Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, November 14, 2022 - February 26, 2023; Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX, April 2 - July 23, 2022

2018: Collecting for the Commonwealth Preserving for the Nation, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1919-2018, Winter Antiques Show, Park Avenue Armory, New York City, NY, January 18 - 26, 2018.

Look Here: FEAST exhibition, VMFA. March 15 - June 25, 2006

"Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya", National Gallery of Art, Washington, April 4 - July 25, 2004; California Palace of the Legion of Honor, September 4, 2004 - January 2, 2005.

"Sacred Symbols" Three-thousand Years of Native American Art". Musée Fabre, Montpellier, France, July 16 - September 29, 2002; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen, October 24, 2002-January 13, 2003; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon, February 19 - April 28, 2003; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rennes, May 28 - August 25, 2003; Minneapolis Institute of Arts, October 26, 2003 - January 11, 2004

"Art of the Ancient Americas: Body and Soul Transformed", VMFA, Deane Gallery, July 26, 1994 - April 16, 1995

"Five Years of Collecting" VMFA, North Gallery I, March 25 - May 4, 1980

"Lords of the Underworld: Masterpieces of Classic Maya Ceramics", Princeton University Art Gallery, March 4 - June 18, 1978
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

Some object records are not complete and do not reflect VMFA's full and current knowledge. VMFA makes routine updates as records are reviewed and enhanced.