Lidded Vessel with Deity Riding on Mythical Bird

Lidded Vessel with Deity Riding on Mythical Bird

250–450 CE
Culture
Maya
Country
Mexico, Guatemala
bowl, lidded
Reduction-fired ceramic
Purchased in honor of Jan and Frederick Mayer with funds from 2001 Collectors' Choice
1998.34A-B

Unknown Maya artists, Lidded Vessel with Deity Riding on Mythical Bird. Mexico or Guatemala, 250–450 CE. Reduction-fired ceramic. 5.625 x 13.375 in. Purchased in honor of Jan and Frederick Mayer with funds from 2001 Collector's Choice, 1998.34. 

This object is currently on view
Dimensions
height: 5.625 in, 14.2875 cm; diameter: 13.375 in, 33.9725 cm
Department
Mayer Center, Art of the Ancient Americas
Collection
Art of the Ancient Americas

Lidded Vessel with Deity Riding on Mythical Bird
Maya
A.D. 250–450
Mexico or Guatemala
Reduction-fired earthenware
Funds from 2001 Collectors’ Choice, 1998.34

This is the largest in a set of three vessels (see also 1998.33, 1998.35).  Carved on the bowl walls are large water symbols.  The lid takes the form of a great mythical bird with outspread wings with a diminutive elderly deity riding on its back.  The bird is crowned, and grasps a double-headed serpent in its beak.  The wings are carved as stylized serpent head profiles.  The bird is usually called the “Principal Bird Deity,” an important figure in Maya mythology, as interpreted from Classic period iconography and post-conquest written sources such as the Popol Vuh.  The old deity on the bird’s back can be identified as Itzamnaaj, a creator god.

Exhibition History
  • “Stampede: Animals in Art” — Denver Art Museum, 9/10/2017
  • “ReVision: Art in the Americas” — Denver Art Museum, 2/16/2020 – 11/8/2020