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Thin Slate Ware Bowl


Maya, Late Classic
650/750-900 CE
11.11 cm x 13.65 cm (4 3/8 in. x 5 3/8 in.)
ceramic
PC.B.138

Not on view


Permalink: http://museum.doaks.org/objects-1/info/22805

Description
This gourd-inspired shape was surely used for the consumption of liquids, as cut gourds continue to be used as drinking cups today. The gouged-incised decorative technique, which consists of scooping out areas to accentuate a design, was employed primarily to create the two horizontal bands at the upper and lower exterior surfaces of the bowl. The resulting motif, commonly represented in Classic Maya art, consists of the twisted double-stranded cord. Immediately below the upper band of twisted cord, a short, skirtlike flange flares outward; its surface is created by contiguous impressions that produced a pleated or wavy appearance. Below this flange, across the midsection of the exterior, is a band of step-fret motifs with a rectangular spiral repeated three times.
The rare elaborateness of the decoration on the vessel’s whole exterior may be indicative of the elevated prestige of the object, its precious contents, or the high status of its owner. This notion may be reinforced by the twisted-cord motif that binds the vessel, a symbol likely asso¬ciated with the plaited mat—a political insignia of rulership.


Bibliography
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. 17, cat. 85.

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. 258, cat. 136, pl. LXXXIII.

Bliss, Robert Woods 1959 Pre-Columbian Art: The Robert Woods Bliss Collection. 2nd ed. Text and Critical Analyses by S. K. Lothrop, Joy Mahler and William F. Foshag. Phaidon, London. p. 266, cat. 136, pl. LXXXIII.

Pillsbury, Joanne, Miriam Doutriaux, Reiko Ishihara-Brito and Alexandre Tokovinine (EDS.) 2012 Ancient Maya Art at Dumbarton Oaks. Pre-Columbian Art at Dumbarton Oaks, Number 4. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, D.C., p. 382-385, pl. 72, fig. 210.

Robicsek, Francis 1975 A Study in Maya Art and History: The Mat Symbol. Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, New York. fig. 260c.





Exhibition History
"Indigenous Art of the Americas", National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, January 1956 to July 1962.


Acquisition History
Purchased from Earl Stendahl, Los Angeles (dealer), by Robert Woods Bliss, 1954.

Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art, Washington, DC, 1954-1962.

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