Precolumbian Collection

Xochipala figure of a seated woman with fully modeled eyeballs with pierced pupils, parted lips revealing two rows of teeth, finely worked feet with fanned toes, and delicately incised hair fashioned into a stylized arrangement (these characteristics were typical of this regional style in Mexico)
Seated Woman
Seated Woman
Xochipala figure of a seated woman with fully modeled eyeballs with pierced pupils, parted lips revealing two rows of teeth, finely worked feet with fanned toes, and delicately incised hair fashioned into a stylized arrangement (these characteristics were typical of this regional style in Mexico)

Seated Woman

Mexico, Guerrero, Xochipala culture
Pre-Classic period (c. 1600–100 B.C.)
c. 1500–1200 B.C.
Ceramic
4 3/8 x 3 1/8 x 2 7/8 in. (11.1 x 8 x 7.3 cm)
AP 1971.04
The Xochipala figures are named after the remote West Mexican village near which all known examples have been found. The style is one of extraordinary physical presence and naturalism for its period.
Detail of upper legs to head of the clay standing man, which may represent an early regional style influenced by the art of the Olmec homeland on the Gulf Coast
Standing Man
Standing Man
Detail of upper legs to head of the clay standing man, which may represent an early regional style influenced by the art of the Olmec homeland on the Gulf Coast

Standing Man

Mexico, Guerrero, Xochipala culture
Pre-Classic period (c. 1600–100 B.C.)
c. 1600–1200 B.C.
Ceramic
8 1/2 x 5 1/16 x 2 7/8 in. (21.6 x 12.9 x 7.3 cm)
AP 1971.03
This figure of a standing man came from a burial found near the remote mountain village of Xochipala, and may represent an early regional style influenced by the art of the Olmec homeland on the Gulf Coast, or perhaps a formative period of Olmec art.
Seated Figure of a child, with snarling expression, plump babyish proportions, and incised headdress
Seated Figure
Seated Figure
Seated Figure of a child, with snarling expression, plump babyish proportions, and incised headdress

Seated Figure

Mexico, Tenenexpan, Veracruz, Olmec culture
Preclassic period (1500–900 B.C.)
c. 1200–900 B.C.
Ceramic with white slip and traces of paint
10 7/8 x 9 1/8 x 6 1/8 in. (27.7 x 23.2 x 15.6 cm)
AP 1971.02
This hollow ceramic seated figure of a child, with snarling expression, plump babyish proportions, and incised headdress, belongs to a type of so-called “hollow baby” figures found throughout Olmec territory.
Upper thighs, torso, and head of Standing Figure with simplified, boldly flowing contours.
Standing Figure
Standing Figure
Upper thighs, torso, and head of Standing Figure with simplified, boldly flowing contours.

Standing Figure

Mexico, Olmec culture
Middle Pre-Classic period (900–300 B.C.)
c. 900–400 B.C.
Jadeite
5 1/2 x 2 11/16 x 1 1/8 in. (13.9 x 6.9 x 2.9 cm)
AP 1981.07
The Olmecs produced the first complex culture in Middle America. Their settlements saw the establishment of the first sacred centers composed of plazas, mounds, and pyramids; and the ceremonial centers contained colossal basalt sculptured heads that portrayed secular leaders as well as deities.
Conch Shell Trumpet with elaborate decoration bears the face of a Maya king and a column of glyphs recording the name of its royal owner. The ruler Wears a jaguar headdress
Conch Shell Trumpet
Conch Shell Trumpet
Conch Shell Trumpet with elaborate decoration bears the face of a Maya king and a column of glyphs recording the name of its royal owner. The ruler Wears a jaguar headdress

Conch Shell Trumpet

Guatemala, Maya culture
Early Classic period (A.D. 250–600)
c. A.D. 250–400
Shell with traces of cinnabar
H. 11 9/16 in. (29.3 cm); Diam. 5 1/4 in. (13.4 cm)
AP 1984.11
This elaborately decorated conch shell bears the face of a Maya king, carefully incised following the undulations in the shell’s surface, and a column of glyphs to the side recording the name of its royal owner.
Rounded Bowl is a limestone bowl with no decoration
Rounded Bowl
Rounded Bowl
Rounded Bowl is a limestone bowl with no decoration

Rounded Bowl

Mexico or Guatemala, Maya culture
Classic period (A.D. 250–900)
c. A.D. 300–900
Limestone
H. 3 9/16 in. (9.1 cm); Diam. 5 in. (12.7 cm)
AP 1994.03
Maya art is noted for its dense and complex pictorial decoration, although not all Maya material was meant to be adorned. In media such as onyx, it is often the case that when vessels are decorated, they are done so with great restraint.
Tripod Vessel is a limestone vessel with a very simplified form of a cylindrical vase with straight flaring sides ending in a slightly everted lip, supported by three tear-drop supports
Tripod Vessel
Tripod Vessel
Tripod Vessel is a limestone vessel with a very simplified form of a cylindrical vase with straight flaring sides ending in a slightly everted lip, supported by three tear-drop supports

Tripod Vessel

Mexico or Guatemala, Maya culture
Classic period (A.D. 250–900)
c. A.D. 300–900
Limestone
H. 9 7/16 in. (23.9 cm); Diam. 6 5/8 in. (16.8 cm)
AP 1994.02
This Maya limestone vessel is unusual for its beautiful material and simple form. The vessel is crafted from a single piece of stone 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.
Royal Belt Ornament with one side representing a full-length profile portrait of a young Maya ruler richly attired in the regalia associated with enthronement. The reverse side includes glyphic text about the ruler's death
Royal Belt Ornament
Royal Belt Ornament
Royal Belt Ornament with one side representing a full-length profile portrait of a young Maya ruler richly attired in the regalia associated with enthronement. The reverse side includes glyphic text about the ruler's death

Royal Belt Ornament

Possibly Guatemala, Maya culture
Early Classic period (A.D. 250–600)
c. A.D. 400–500
Pale gray-green jade
9 1/4 × 3 × 1/8 in. (23.5 × 7.6 × 0.3 cm)
AP 2004.05
This exquisitely decorated jade belt ornament originally formed part of a royal costume that included a belt assemblage consisting of three such pendants. One side represents a full-length profile portrait of a young Maya ruler richly attired in the regalia associated with enthronement.
Singing Priest or God is a fresco a priest or god costumed in an elaborately plumed headdress performs a ceremony involving the scattering of incense while singing. The object of the ceremony depicted is the glyph like symbol of five maguey spines thrust into a stack of reeds
Singing Priest or God
Singing Priest or God
Singing Priest or God is a fresco a priest or god costumed in an elaborately plumed headdress performs a ceremony involving the scattering of incense while singing. The object of the ceremony depicted is the glyph like symbol of five maguey spines thrust into a stack of reeds

Singing Priest or God

Mexico, Valley of Mexico, Teotihuacán culture
Early Classic period (A.D. 250–600)
c. A.D. 400–600
Fresco
23 11/16 x 43 1/2 in. (60.2 x 110.5 cm)
AP 1972.16
The city of Teotihuacán, located about thirty miles northeast of Mexico City,was the capital of the first classical civilization of Mesoamerica, dating from around the first to the seventh century A.D.
Detail of stuccoed body, which is delicately painted with images of four chimerical creatures, each with a feathered, snakelike neck and head, a body containing the head of an aged divinity that may be Pawahtun
Tripod Vessel with Lid
Tripod Vessel with Lid
Detail of stuccoed body, which is delicately painted with images of four chimerical creatures, each with a feathered, snakelike neck and head, a body containing the head of an aged divinity that may be Pawahtun

Tripod Vessel with Lid

Guatemala, Maya culture
Early Classic period (A.D. 250–600)
c. A.D. 400–500
Ceramic with stucco and polychrome pigments
H. 11 in. (27.9 cm); Diam. 6 1/4 in. (15.9 cm)
AP 1997.01
The art of the Maya is principally the art of the ruling elite. Vessels were made to honor and commemorate once-living rulers and to venerate their gods and ancestors; these objects, laden with power and symbolism, were then buried in tombs alongside their royal or noble owners.
Urn in the Form of Cociyo, God of Lightning who is identified by facial elements forming a powerfully sculptural mask. The mask has forms enclosing the eyes, representative of clouds, a doubly plugged nasal extension, fangs, broad mouth, and flashy tongue. Cociyo is also dressed as a priest or deity.
Urn in the Form of Cociyo, God of Lightning and Rain
Urn in the Form of Cociyo, God of Lightning and Rain
Urn in the Form of Cociyo, God of Lightning who is identified by facial elements forming a powerfully sculptural mask. The mask has forms enclosing the eyes, representative of clouds, a doubly plugged nasal extension, fangs, broad mouth, and flashy tongue. Cociyo is also dressed as a priest or deity.

Urn in the Form of Cociyo, God of Lightning and Rain

Mexico, Oaxaca, Monte Albán IIIa, Zapotec culture
Early Classic period (A.D. 250–600)
c. A.D. 400–500
Ceramic
28 1/2 x 21 x 18 in. (72.4 x 53.3 x 45.7 cm)
AP 1985.09
The primary capital of Zapotec culture was the ceremonial site of Monte Albán (in the modern state of Oaxaca), where the Zapotecs worshipped a complex pantheon of nature gods.
Vessel with a Mythological Frieze is a tall painted Maya vessel depicting two renderings of the aged supreme deity Itzamna, the god of heaven and sun for the Yucatec Maya.
Vessel with a Mythological Frieze
Vessel with a Mythological Frieze
Vessel with a Mythological Frieze is a tall painted Maya vessel depicting two renderings of the aged supreme deity Itzamna, the god of heaven and sun for the Yucatec Maya.

Vessel with a Mythological Frieze

Possibly Guatemala or Belize, Maya culture
Late Classic period (A.D. 600–900)
c. A.D. 550–950
Polychromed ceramic
H. 10 13/16 in. (27.5 cm); Diam. 5 5/16 in. (13.5 cm)
AP 2004.02
This tall vessel is skillfully painted with a unique mythological frieze depicting two renderings of the aged supreme deity Itzamna, the god of heaven and sun for the Yucatec Maya.
Smiling Girl Holding a Basket is a ceramic and white slip sculpture of a smiling girl with enlivening hand-modeled details, filed front teeth, lively smile, and broadly sculpted costume.
Smiling Girl Holding a Basket
Smiling Girl Holding a Basket
Smiling Girl Holding a Basket is a ceramic and white slip sculpture of a smiling girl with enlivening hand-modeled details, filed front teeth, lively smile, and broadly sculpted costume.

Smiling Girl Holding a Basket

Mexico, central Veracruz, Nopiloa style
Late Classic period (A.D. 600–900)
A.D. 600–750
Ceramic with white slip and traces of paint
7 9/16 x 6 1/8 x 3 3/4 in. (19.2 x 15.5 x 9.5 cm)
AP 1978.01
Among numerous regional variations, hollow modeled figures from the Veracruz area of the Gulf Coast are noted for their typical smiling facial expressions and the great care given to the slightest details of ornament and attire.
Standing Dignitary is a freestanding figurine composed of intricate and densely patterned inlays of mother-of-pearl, colorful shells, turquoise, pyrite, greenstone, lapis lazuli, and silver (for the headdress which is now oxidized) on a wood matrix. He wears a tunic with an intricate pattern of a zoomorphic motif.
Standing Dignitary
Standing Dignitary
Standing Dignitary is a freestanding figurine composed of intricate and densely patterned inlays of mother-of-pearl, colorful shells, turquoise, pyrite, greenstone, lapis lazuli, and silver (for the headdress which is now oxidized) on a wood matrix. He wears a tunic with an intricate pattern of a zoomorphic motif.

Standing Dignitary

Peru, South Coast, Wari culture
Middle Horizon, c. 7th–11th century A.D.
c. A.D. 600–1000
Wood with shell-and-stone inlay and silver
4 x 2 1/2 x 1 in. (10.2 x 6.4 x 2.6 cm)
AP 2002.04
This rare Wari freestanding figurine is composed of intricate and densely patterned inlays of mother-of-pearl, purple and orange spondylus shell, mussel shell, turquoise, pyrite, greenstone, lapis lazuli, and silver (for the headdress) on a wood matrix.
Standing Ruler is a small-scale ceramic figuring evoking a costumed Maya lord. The Standing Ruler holds a shield and wears a belt, supported by a back rack, apron and headdress.
Standing Ruler
Standing Ruler
Standing Ruler is a small-scale ceramic figuring evoking a costumed Maya lord. The Standing Ruler holds a shield and wears a belt, supported by a back rack, apron and headdress.

Standing Ruler

Guatemala, Maya culture
Late Classic period (A.D. 600–900)
c. A.D. 600–800
Ceramic with traces of paint
9 3/8 x 3 7/8 x 3 7/8 in. (23.8 x 9.9 x 9.8 cm)
AP 1984.03
The surviving works of Maya civilization range from the smallest objects to great edifices. Among the small-scale artworks of the Maya are many exquisite ceramic figurines only a few inches high.
Ceramic Censer Stand with the Head of a Supernatural Being with a Kan Cross. This censer stand is sculpted with a vertical tier of five heads with sides  decorated with a variety of motifs that include (from top to bottom) jewels with bird-shaped heads and ribbons, stylized crocodile ears, crossed and knotted bands, and ornamented ear spools. Traces of the original blue, red, and white pigments are still present.
Censer Stand with the Head of a Supernatural Being with a Kan Cross
Censer Stand with the Head of a Supernatural Being with a Kan Cross
Ceramic Censer Stand with the Head of a Supernatural Being with a Kan Cross. This censer stand is sculpted with a vertical tier of five heads with sides  decorated with a variety of motifs that include (from top to bottom) jewels with bird-shaped heads and ribbons, stylized crocodile ears, crossed and knotted bands, and ornamented ear spools. Traces of the original blue, red, and white pigments are still present.

Censer Stand with the Head of a Supernatural Being with a Kan Cross

Mexico, Usumacinta region, Chiapas, Palenque, Maya culture
Late Classic period (A.D. 600-900)
c. A.D. 690-720
Ceramic with traces of pigments
44 7/8 × 21 1/2 × 11 1/2 in. (114 × 54.6 × 29.2 cm)
AP 2013.02
Monumental ceramic censer stands are some of the finest and largest freestanding sculptures created by Maya artists.

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