Pre-Columbian, Mexico and northern Central America, Mayan Territories, Late Classic, ca. 550 to 900 CE. An incredible matched lid and body of a ceramic vessel of the style found in buried Mayan caches. The lid is shaped like a disembodied head - probably representing a trophy head, with its bulging eyes and opened mouth - and wears a massive headdress with two flat, curved handles that project outward from its sides. The body of the vessel is also a disembodied head, with four spikes jutting outward from either side of it. Remains of ocher yellow, earthy red, white, and sky blue pigment are visible over much of both the lid and the body. Size: 6.9" W x 8.95" H (17.5 cm x 22.7 cm)
Unlike many other ancient civilizations, the Mayans did not have cemeteries or necropolises; instead, they buried both human remains and ritual caches of pottery filled with offerings, jade, beads, and other precious items throughout their lived-in-landscape, especially as part of their architecture. These all seem to have been "earth offerings," and may have been dedications for newly built construction, markers for the end of use of a building, or some kind of renewal ceremony relating to the broader concept of Mayan cosmology: the cycle of planting, harvest, and rebirth. Caches have been found in floors, in the fill of buildings, or set into walls. Vessels with lids seem to have been symbolic of houses or structures to the Maya, meaning that these vessels served as symbolic offerings of the buildings they were buried inside, able to be filled with offerings of food or drink, sanctifying the construction.
Provenance: ex-private T.S. collection, San Diego County, California, USA, acquired between 25 and 40 years ago
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