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Vessel with Five Figures, c. A.D. 750–800

Ancient American

Credit: Gift of Mary O’Boyle II in memory of John William and Mary Seegar O’Boyle

Processional scenes are a common mode of representation on Maya painted vessels. On each side of this vessel a noble lord prepares to dance with a lady. While the two women are clearly differentiated in dress and facial expression, the opposing male figure of a lord may in fact be the same individual, as the facial profiles with goatee beards are identical. The lord’s headdress features a band of jaguar pelts crowned by an animal head. The second male, standing between the two pairs of figures, is possibly an attendant. He holds a baton of a type that appears also in war scenes, here perhaps simply indicating his status. Just below the rim is the Primary Standard Sequence, a formulaic text that here describes the vessel as a vase for the chocolate drink; following it are the name glyphs of the vase’s royal owner or patron. The vertical texts are merely repetitions of the same glyph, perhaps meaningless.


(Edward H. Merrin Gallery, New York) c. 1970;

purchased by Mary O’Boyle II, New York, 1977;

acquired by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1979, gift of Mary O’Boyle II in memory of John William and Mary Seegar O’Boyle.

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