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Collection

Ancient American
Tripod Vessel

This Maya limestone tripod vessel is unusual for its beautiful material and simple form. The vessel is crafted from a single piece of limestone into a cylindrical vase with straight flaring sides ending in a slightly everted lip. At the base are three supports of rounded “tear-drop” form. The expertly ground walls are so thin as to be translucent, making the piece surprisingly lightweight for its size.

The main corpus of Maya art is noted for its dense and complex pictorial decoration. Like Maya pottery, the surfaces of limestone and other white stone vessels were often carved or painted. In the case of this vessel, however, the absence of decoration only enhances the appeal of its pure, elegant form. The superior quality of the workmanship suggests that this vessel was intended for a wealthy Maya clientele, probably as a funerary offering.

Provenance

Purchased by John Williams III, Dallas, Texas, beginning to mid-1970s;

(Ancient Art of the New World, New York);

purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1994.