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Cylindrical Vessel

Arts of the Americas

The use of animal imagery to support divine rule and convey military strength was common among the ancient Maya, whose Classic period dated from 250 to 900 in a region that encompasses modern-day Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, and portions of southern Mexico. This small ceramic figurine of a nobleman has a removable serpent-headed headdress decorated with the precious and sacred tail feathers of the iridescent-green quetzal bird, which is associated with the feathered-serpent deity Kukulcán. The ceramic vessel displayed here features a procession of eleven military victors following a naked, bound prisoner. Each warrior wears a tie-dyed textile, a trophy head suspended from his belt, and an animal headdress that may represent his warrior society.
MEDIUM Ceramic, pigment
DATES ca. 550–950 C.E.
DIMENSIONS 6 1/4 x 5 3/8 x 5 3/8 in. (15.9 x 13.7 x 13.7 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
CREDIT LINE Gift in memory of Frederic Zeller
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Polychrome vessel with a procession of warrior figures with trophy heads hanging from their waists surrounding a bound prisoner who has been stripped of his clothes except for a trophy head (possibly a disgraced warrior). The prisoner's penis has been split in two and as blood drips down, he screams in pain (the speech glyphs above his head indicate screaming). The figure behind him holds an executioner's staff topped with a large obsidian knife.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION Maya. Cylindrical Vessel, ca. 550–950 C.E. Ceramic, pigment, 6 1/4 x 5 3/8 x 5 3/8 in. (15.9 x 13.7 x 13.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift in memory of Frederic Zeller, 1998.176.2. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1998.176.2.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 1998.176.2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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