Pre-Columbian, Honduras, Maya Ulua Valley, ca. 550 to 850 CE. A fascinatingly-shaped ceramic vessel with a ridged body and spiral-shaped central point on its two flattened sides, resembling a small pumpkin or gourd on its side. A symmetrical flaring ovoid foot and neck complete the vessel's unusual form. The body is painted a warm, yam-colored orange with the central spiral a richly hued wine red. The foot and neck, meanwhile, have complex black-outlined iconography. The foot has three openwork stepped forms - resembling the altars at the top of Mayan pyramids - and then is painted with a repeated fantastical face - probably a version of the winged serpent god, known as Kukulkan to the Maya and Quetzalcoatl elsewhere in Mesoamerica. Around the neck are abstract, glyphoid motifs that in some places resemble human faces seen in profile and elsewhere are geometric forms. Size: 5.75" W x 6.6" H (14.6 cm x 16.8 cm)
The Ulua Valley, centered around the large city of Cerro Palenque, is a mystery for archaeologists - unlike the Maya, they left no written records (the glyphoid designs on this vessel do not form words), 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. The pottery from the Ulua Valley is part of a very unique tradition different even from those found at nearby Copan.
Provenance: private New York, New York, USA collection; ex Miami Beach, Florida, USA collection
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