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Carved Vase

Part of a tradition of richly decorated ceramics, carved vases such as this also recall Maya monumental stone relief carving. All carved Maya ceramics are decorated before firing: after the clay has dried to leather hardness, they are incised and then painted with slip or simply burnished, as in this example. The vase shows a Maya male with elaborate headdress and jewelry. More significantly, though, patches on the figure’s back arm and thigh, known as “god markings, ” identify him as a divinity rather than a mere noble.

Maya culture, Yucatán or northern Campeche, Mexico
Carved Vase
Late Classic period, 700–800
Clay
H. 5 ½ in. (14.1 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 73.10.2