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Bowl


Maya, Late Classic
718 CE
11.43 cm x 15.88 cm (4 1/2 in. x 6 1/4 in.)
travertine
PC.B.147

On view


Permalink: http://museum.doaks.org/objects-1/info/22810

Description
A master craftsman carved this bowl from a single piece of banded onyx marble. Using stone drills, he created walls that are only an eighth of an inch thick at the rim and measure scarcely half of that in certain incised parts of the design. This remarkable thinness enhances the natural translucency of the stone, a feature that was highly valued by the ancient Maya.

The bowl has a hieroglyphic text incised around the rim and is decorated with three scenes, separated by columns of six flutes. Each scene features a different individual, who looks to his or her right and extends a hand holding something. The bearded man visible in this photograph is paired conceptually with a woman in the next scene to the right. Both are seated in conventionalized serpent jaws, indicating proximity to the divine. He leans forward, appearing to offer a short ceremonial serpent bar, an insignia of power. At the far end of the bar, above the serpent face, is the sign for the number seven—a vertical bar with two dots. Behind him, the woman, wearing a long dress and many ornaments, holds a long-nosed head, above which is the sign for the number nine—a vertical bar with four dots. The 7-head and 9-head glyphs are paired repeatedly in Maya art, and they may refer to complementary aspects of earthly fertility. The third figure on the bowl is an artist scribe—possibly the creator of this bowl—who sits cross-legged, supporting his body with one hand and offering a saurian head with the other. He wears a bundle of quills fastened to his headcloth, and the glyphs next to him identify him as Yiban, the personal artist/scribe of a warlord.


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

"I Maya", Palazzo Grassi, Venice, Italy, 9/6/1998 - 5/16/1999.


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, D.C.


Glyphs | Mayas | Serpents | Staffs