Guatemala, Mayan Polychrome Ceramic Cylinder Vessel with Ruler and Otherworld Serpent Deity
This compelling Mayan painted cylinder depicts a ruler, or cacique, enthroned in the jaws of the Serpent Deity from the otherworld. The top register of the vessel contains the Primary Standard Sequence - a sequence of characters identified by scholar Michael Coe in The Maya Scribe and His World in 1973. These glyphs are repeated in a similar formation on many vessels and are thought to be associated with Mayan myth and ritual. The Mayans believed that human souls were required as a sacrifice to propel the eternal wheel of cosmic order, and that the sacrificed souls would live beyond the death of the body. Fierce anthropomorphized serpent figures, such as the one depicted here, were employed by the Mayans to represent the archetypal forces of death and sacrifice.
Scholar Justin Kerr (mayavase.com) lists this cylinder as being affiliated with the term Och Chan Yopat, which means "the storm god enters the sky." This phrase is also found on a Mayan frieze that in Guatamala, described by Rachel Newer in The Smithsonian Magazine on August 9, 2013. This phrase describes the terrible, formidable nature of the cacique as well as the serpent god. The vase is painted in broad, sweeping lines of motion, using vibrant red blocks and aggressive black lines that weave in and out and morph from curving to linear. Acquired in Tokyo, Japan, prior to 1970.
Kerr database #K937 (mayavase.com).
Dimensions: Height: 7 7/8" x Diameter: 5 3/4"