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Teotihuacan, Classic, general
200 - 750
10.48 cm x 13.97 cm (4 1/8 in. x 5 1/2 in.)
ceramic with stucco

Not on view


This Teotihuacan cylinder vessel seems like a sister to PC.B.065, with a similar palette and design program and such a marked likeness of drawing style that the two may have been the products of the same workshop, possibly even the same artist. Both vessels reveal a reserved space technique, i.e., the incorporation into the design of parts of the uncolored background. Like the other vessels, pc.b.066 has sustained some damage: its missing feet have been recently replaced, paint and stucco have flaked off, and some areas show a dark incrustation. Yet the motifs remain fairly clear.

The decorative field is similar to that of pc.b.065: a narrow blue-green band at the top, a central register comprising three-quarters of the vessel’s height for the two identical horizontally arrayed figures and their accoutrements, and a lower decorated band. The figures are left-facing profiles wearing masks and costumes with avian and butterfly attributes.

The face is painted red; the yellow rectangular area extending over the nose and cheek probably represents face paint. Covering the mouth is a blue-green Teotihuacan-style nose ornament, a device that scholars have associated with butterflies and with talud and tablero architecture.

From the mouth area emerges a scroll with a red-on-white scrolled edge, a motif related to torrents of water. The area it encloses is outlined in black and has a white background with a blue-green band abut¬ting the black line. Each scroll contains four or five objects that are difficult to define, given the damage and the sketchy style of rendering. The clearest, a blue-green concentric disk in the upper right section, is almost certainly a chalchihuitl symbol of preciousness. Other shapes, red and yellow, are on the periphery; there is room for a fifth object in the middle, but both scrolls are damaged in this area. Each scroll has six appendages around its outer edge, shapes of the comb and bar type, including a serrated comb and bar that some scholars regard as symbolic of bundles, such as of firewood.

The human figure is elaborately costumed. The face peers out through the headdress’s wide-open beak, which is topped by a curling feathered scroll extending upward. The headdress-mask’s eye is a black dot surrounded by concentric yellow, white, and red circles and by two tiers of feathers. On top, a white puffball secures to the headdress a yellow tri¬lobe, from which emerges a long three-tiered tuft of feathers.

Extending from either side of the base of this headdress are wing-shaped feather banners, each decorated with red-rimmed half-eyes. More multitiered feather tufts extend to the back of the figure, seeming to overlap the large feathered panel behind it. This panel, probably a feathered ban¬ner that is part of the figure’s costume, is almost square and nearly as large as the figure.

In addition to wide outer bands of blue-green and yellow feathers, the panel features three sets of “triple mountains”. These rest on a black and white band of four rhomboid eyes separated by white bars. Next to this band is an inner one of blue-green on which are sketched seven ovoids that could represent beans, which were used in divination by Pre-Columbian peo¬ples. Further inside this square is a band of white with yellow dots, and then a red band decorated with the serrated comb and bar design. This frames the panel’s innermost motif, a vertical flattened droplet drawn in black against white.
On some Teotihuacan vessels, the decorative band is related to larger motifs in a thematic fashion but is not painted so that its design is integrated into that of the main panel. On PC.B.066, however, each of the principal motifs is related to a particular design sequence on the band below it, and these design sequences are separated by sets of four vertical bars in white, yellow, red, and blue-green. The costumed figure is above a set of three wavy diagonals, narrow red and blue-green bands separated by a black line, against a white background.

Alcina Franch, José 1979 Die Kunst Des Alten Amerika. Grosse Epochen Der Weltkunst. Ars Antiqua. Herder, Freiburg. fig. 262.

Benson, Elizabeth P. 1963 Handbook of the Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art. Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, D.C., p. 3, cat. 10.

Bliss, Robert Woods 1947 Indigenous Art of the Americas: Collection of Robert Woods Bliss. National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian institution, Washington, D.C., p. 26, cat. 125.

Bliss, Robert Woods 1957 Pre-Columbian Art: The Robert Woods Bliss Collection. Text and Critical Analyses by S. K. Lothrop, Joy Mahler and William F. Foshag. Phaidon, New York. p. 239-240, cat. 45, pl. XXXII.

Conides, Cynthia and Barbour, Warren 1999 Tocados Dentro Del Paisaje Arquitectónico Y Social En Teotihuacan In Ideología Y Política a Través De Materiales, Imágenes Y Símbolos : Memoria De La Primera Mesa Redonda De Teotihuacan, María Elena Ruiz Gallut, ed., pp. 411-430. 1. ed. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas [e] Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, México, D.F., p. 412, fig. 1.

Kidder, Alfred V., Jesse D. Jennings and Edwin M. Shook 1977 Excavations at Kaminaljuyu, Guatemala. Monograph Series on Kaminaljuyu. Pennsylavania State University Press, University Park. fig. 176b, 101b.

Winning, Hasso von 1961 Teotihuacan Symbols. Ethos 26:3. p. 130.

Exhibition History
"Indigenous Art of the Americas", National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, April 1947–November 1952, February 1954–July 1962.

"75 Years/75 Objects", Dumbarton Oaks, Washington DC, 09/08/2015 - 05/22/2016

Acquisition History
Purchased from Earl Stendahl, Los Angeles (dealer), by Robert Woods Bliss before 1947.

Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art, Washington, DC, 1947-1962.

Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Pre-Columbian Collection, Washington, DC.

Birds | Feathers | Headdresses|Helmets | Teotihuacan