This globular vessel bears two images of a seated God N in a gastropod shell. Each representation of the deity holds up a necklace of beads and wears a tied and looped headdress. A sprout extending from the headdress may represent corn, and flowing from this is a large bunch of quetzal feathers.
The background of the bowl is a light-orange slip, and the body of God N is a darker orange outlined in black, with internal details also in black. The coloration is similar to that of the hieroglyphic text, for the general shapes of the text are in the burnt-orange slip, and the outlining and details are in black. Each God N sits in a creamy-white shell.
The scenes of the two God N figures are framed above by a row of text that curves around the upper part of the bowl beneath the rim. This is the Primary Standard Sequence, the dedicatory text for the vessel. There are also two columns of glyphs that divide the vessel into two sections, though these are pseudoglyphs, with the same signs repeated six times. Black and orange bands also frame the image and text above and below; the bottom one forms the ground line for the image.
The aged God N, shown in profile, is seated within a gastropod shell, one of his usual attributes. He has a squared nose, and there is a line of dots that curves around his mouth, which is highlighted by the darker-orange slip, referring to the wrinkles that typically frame the mouth of God N and other aged deities.
In the two scenes on the Dumbarton Oaks bowl, God N leans forward with outstretched arms, a beaded necklace in his hands. The necklace, similar to the one he wears, is presumably made of jade. But to whom does he make this offering? There is no recipient shown in the scene, but one is certainly implied. Perhaps he makes an offering to another deity. Alternatively, God N’s gift may be to the hypothetical recipient of the vessel.
"Indigenous Art of the Americas", National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, February 1954 to July 1962.
Purchased from Earl Stendahl, Los Angeles (dealer), by Robert Woods Bliss, July 1950.
Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art, Washington, DC, 1950-1962.
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Pre-Columbian Collection, Washington, DC.