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Tetrapod Bowl with Lid

Arts of the Americas

On View: Great Hall, 1st Floor
Ancient Maya art often refers to the structure of the universe, conceived as three vertical levels: the celestial upper world of supernatural beings and ancestors, the earthly middle world of human beings, and the watery underworld of the dead.

The water bird on the lid of this vessel symbolizes the underworld, and the design on its beak signifies a portal to the supernatural realm. The four modeled legs of the vessel are four nose-down heads of peccaries (a type of pig), possibly representing the four pillars of the world, corresponding to the four cardinal directions.
MEDIUM Ceramic, pigment
DATES 350-450
PERIOD Early Classic Period
DIMENSIONS Overall with Lid: 13 x 11 1/4 x 11 1/4 in. (33 x 28.6 x 28.6 cm)  (show scale)
COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Great Hall, 1st Floor
CREDIT LINE Ella C. Woodward Memorial Fund
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CAPTION Maya. Tetrapod Bowl with Lid, 350-450. Ceramic, pigment, Overall with Lid: 13 x 11 1/4 x 11 1/4 in. (33 x 28.6 x 28.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Ella C. Woodward Memorial Fund, 64.217a-b. Creative Commons-BY
IMAGE overall, 64.217a-b_acetate_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Tetrapod bowl with lid, with residue of red and white pigments. On lid, modeled depictions include a water bird with a fish in its mouth, wings to the side, and at the back, a glyph meaning "anus." Four modeled legs represent peccaries with their snouts flat against the ground. Condition: The vessel is in stable condition. The lid has been broken and repaired (see updated conservation treatment report).
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Tetrapod Bowl with Lid