Weekly Auctions of Exceptional Items
0 selections
Log In
0 selections
lots of lots
Lot 0142A
Pre-Columbian, Mexico and northern Central America, Mayan Territories, Late Classic, ca. 550 to 900 CE. A large polychrome plate standing on three short conical legs, with a hand-painted jaguar warrior in tondo, standing in composite profile and wearing a jaguar mask, jaguar pelt gloves, and jaguar pelt foot coverings, and presenting a long wild feline tail. In addition, a series of glyphs surrounds the figure, tracing the interior rim. Also note the waterlily attached to the front extension from the figure's helmet (feathered plumes flowing behind the helmet); this suggests the Water Lily Jaguar (also known as Jaguar Night Sun, the Jaguar War God, and JGU), Jaguar God of the Underworld (Xibalba), possibly an aspect of the Sun God - the sun at night when progressing through the underworld, thus associated with the moon. The Jaguar God of the Underworld was also associated with war - echoed by the jaguar warrior figure depicted on this plate; the Jaguar God of the Underworld is also represented on a warrior shield on the "Tablet of the Sun" at Palenque. Size: 13.75" in diameter x 2.5" H (34.9 cm x 6.4 cm)

King of Beasts in the Pre-Columbian world, infamous for possessing high speed and massive strength, the jaguar was believed to dominate nature inspiring respect and awe throughout the ancient Americas. Jaguars were also associated with strength and leadership, whether in regard to spirituality or martial skill. Warriors, rulers, hunters, and shamans alike associated themselves with this King of Beasts, the largest and most powerful feline in the New World whom they viewed as their spirit companion and protector. In addition, scholars believe that the jaguar is associated with fertility and vegetation by the Maya. The Waterlily Jaguar or Jaguar God of the Underworld is depicted with waterlilies sprouting from its head connoting fertility.

For the Maya, finely decorated ceramic works like this example were gifted to elite individuals, akin to the gifts exchanged between high profile dignitaries today. 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 giver through a form of purchased loyalty. Maya kings and queens oftentimes gave them to local governors. In addition, the artists who created them were also often minor royalty or nobility, especially the ones who could paint glyphs as literacy was reserved for the Mayan elite.

Follow this link to see a rollout of a vessel depicting the Jaguar God of the Underworld in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York that comes from Guatemala, ca. 500 to 700 CE - https://ancientmayalife.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-jaguar-god-of-underworld.html

Provenance: private Southern California, USA collection, acquired in the 1970s to mid-1980s

All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

A Certificate of Authenticity will accompany all winning bids.

We ship worldwide to most countries and handle all shipping in-house for your convenience.



One stabilized pressure crack from rim. Surface wear with some fading to the painted decorative program and abraded areas as shown. Legs possibly reattached.

Buyer's Premium

  • 24.5%

Mayan Polychrome Tripod Dish - Water Lily Jaguar

Estimate $2,000 - $3,000Dec 6, 2018
Louisville, CO, USA