Pre-Columbian, Highlands (Chiapas, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador), Maya Late Classic Period, ca. 600 CE. A flare-rimmed dish standing on three short legs, with a central portrait head in tondo. The head faces left and depicts someone with an enormous cape and pectoral. The face is classically Mayan, wth a prominent nose and very long, sloping forehead, representing beauty ideals that real Mayan lords seem to have cosmetically altered themselves to achieve. Feathers and a topknot rise upward and outward from the face and head. Around the central portrait, on the sloping sides of the rim, are a series of pseudo-glyphs separated by repeated triangles. Size: 13.5" W x 3" H (34.3 cm x 7.6 cm)
Painted Mayan pottery like this was used for feasting, ritual purposes, and as prestigious gifts given to emphasize the power of the giver and bind the recipient to them through a form of purchased loyalty. Maya kings and queens might give them to local governors. The artists who created them were also often minor royalty or nobility, especially the ones who could paint glyphs - literacy seems to have been reserved for the Mayan elite.
Provenance: private D. C. collection, California, USA; D. C. is an Emmy Award winning Hollywood writer and Executive Producer, collected before 2000; ex Arte Primitivo Gallery, New York, USA June 1999
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