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Vessel with Ceremonial Scene, c. A.D. 690–750

Ancient American

The scene on this vessel appears to depict a ritual that is being enacted in a sumptuous palace interior, indicated by the swagged curtain framing the top of the scene. A lord seated on a mat-topped throne hands over a fringed object, which may be a decorated mirror, to a kneeling attendant who is holding a bowl or basket. The lord wears an elaborate bird headdress that is pierced through the nostril with a sting-ray spine, the ancient instrument of ritual bloodletting. The boldly incised text on the reverse of the vessel is a Primary Standard Sequence, describing this as a vase for a certain kind of chocolate drink, and ending with the patron’s name, which includes the hieroglyph muyal, “cloud.”

Chocholá style vessels take their name from one of several sites in the northern Yucatán that have yielded these distinctively carved vessels. Many bear imagery carved in a single scene on one side only, with text on the other side. Vessels in this style have been recovered from as far as Jaina Island, but most have been manufactured in the Chocholá area.


(André Emmerich Inc., New York) by 1971;

purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1974.

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