Almost all Maya pictorial ceramics have been found in the tombs of elite individuals. As burial offerings, such ceramics were accompanied by a variety of other objects, all meant both to honor the deceased and to help him or her pass successfully through the dangers of the underworld, so that the soul could attain rebirth or deification. Their presence as tomb offerings is one factor that has led many scholars to believe that most Maya pictorial ceramics, including this one, depict scenes from the underworld. On this vase, for example, God N, one of the rulers of the underworld, can be recognized, though the other three figures remain unidentified.
Maya culture, Petén, Guatemala
Late Classic period, 700–800
H. 6 ½ in. (16.5 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection, 80.114