Donated By: Donick Cary, Emmy-Award winning writer/producer (Letterman /Simpsons / Parks and Recreation /Silicon Valley)
Pre-Columbian, Honduras, Ulua Valley, Mayan, ca. 550 to 900 CE. A large, Mayan polychrome cocoa cup, of a handbuilt cylindrical form featuring three kneeling lords / caziques wearing elaborate knobbed headdresses alternating with a large spiraled glyph of a mazelike form. Above and below are narrower registers of abstract glyphoids. Thick red bands further adorn the upper section just below the interior and exterior rims. The iconography is otherwise painted in red, orange, and black against a creamy beige ground. Size: 6.625" in diameter x 7.375" H (16.8 cm x 18.7 cm)
The pottery from the Ulua Valley is part of a very unique tradition different even from those found at nearby Copan. The Ulua Valley, centered around the large city of Cerro Palenque, remains a bit of a mystery for archaeologist, because they left no written records, and their connection to the Classic Maya is unclear. It seems to have been a point of trade and transport - a connecting link - between the Maya world further north and Central America.
According to the Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education scholars Dorie Reents-Budet and Ronald Bishop, "Today, when high-profile foreign dignitaries visit the White House, they can expect to attend grand dinners and to receive gifts, often custom-made by the best artists in the country. The gifts honor the visitor and showcase the giver's fine taste. In the days of the Classic Maya (250-900 CE), state-level gift-giving was little different, and no gift reflected more meaning or artistic expertise than the painted ceramic vase. Twenty years ago, the hieroglyphs, images, and even origins of these extraordinary vessels were little known. Now, advances in decipherment and chemical technology have made these vases invaluable for exploring the economic, political, and social exploits of the Maya. The vases, used both to serve food at feasts and as gifts presented at such events, were created by highly skilled painters who had mastered the intricacies of Classic Maya religious mythology, ideology, and history, and used hieroglyphic writing as both communication and visual poetry. Artists were highly regarded and often members of elite families." (Archaeology Archive, Vol. 56,Number 2, March/April 2003, abstract)
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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