Donated By: Donick Cary, Emmy-Award winning writer/producer (Letterman /Simpsons / Parks and Recreation /Silicon Valley)
Pre-Columbian, Tiquisate area of Esquintla, Guatemala, Mayan, ca. 4th century CE. An early classic Tiquisate pot or large cocoa cup - early as the decoration is incised rather than mold-impressed. Tiquisate pottery features a mixture of local Escuintla motifs, foreign Teotihuacan motifs, and designs borrowed from neighboring Maya areas (the inhabitants of Escuintla in the 4th to 6th centuries CE were not actually Mayan). The cylinder is decorated with two panels featuring a seated deity or lord/cazique with hands in an almost pantomime-like gesture and head in profile with wide-open eyes and mouth as if chanting. Red cinnabar graces the incised areas making the image so striking. Surrounding the figure on two sides in an L-shaped panel depicting woven fibers, referencing the weaving/mat/textile glyph - the incised areas still showing nice remains of white pigment and/or stucco. Above and below are narrower registers of glyphs, including the Mayan star glyph, also embellished with red cinnabar. Truly a stunning example! Size: 5.125" W x 8.5" H (13 cm x 21.6 cm)
The star glyph, "Ek'", sometimes called the "Venus" glyph, in reality stood for stars, planets, and constellations. Adjectives were used to denote specific celestial bodies - so "chak ek'", "great/red planet" was the actual name for Venus. The ek' glyph was sometimes placed with other celestial concepts, such as the signs for sun, moon, and darkness, to indicate divinity - for example, those glyphs appear together on the sarcophagus of one of the kings of Palenque, seemingly saying that he will soon be joining the stars and planets in the sky.
The existence of the mat glyphs is particularly significant. Weaving is a common symbol in Mayan iconography, known by the word "jal", and probably meant to describe woven cloth that was given as tribute alongside other high value items like jade, quetzal feathers, and cocoa beans. Woven textiles also had a sacred purpose: newly-made sacred objects were seen as vulnerable, susceptible to loss of their souls or powers, and so they would be wrapped in textiles to protect them until they could grow stronger over time. In addition, important rituals and agreements took place upon ceremonial mats.
Provenance: private D. C. collection, California, USA; D. C. is an Emmy Award winning Hollywood writer and Executive Producer, collected before 2000
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