Cylinder Vessel with Image of Seated Lord and Attendants at Court

Cylinder Vessel with Image of Seated Lord and Attendants at Court

600–800 CE
Culture
Maya
Locale
Rio Azul
Country
Guatemala
vessel
Ceramic with colored slips
Funds from various donors, Volunteer Endowment Fund, and department acquisition funds
2003.1

Unknown Artist, Cylinder Vessel with Image of Seated Lord and Attendants at Court. Maya, 600—800 CE, Río Azul, Guatemala. Ceramic with colored slips. 11 ¼ x 6 in. (28.6 ×15.2 cm). Denver Art Museum Collection: Funds from various donors, Volunteer Endowment Fund, and department acquisition funds, 2003.1 

Dimensions
height: 11 1/4 in, 28.5750 cm; diameter: 6 in, 15.2400 cm
Department
Mayer Center, Art of the Ancient Americas
Collection
Art of the Ancient Americas

Unknown Maya artist 
Río Azul, Guatemala 
Cylinder Vessel with Image of Seated Lord and Attendants at Court, 600–800 CE 
Ceramic with colored slips 
Funds from various donors, Volunteer Endowment Fund, and department acquisition funds, 2003.1 

Late Classic Maya painted cylinder vessels were cherished objects that fit into the palm of one’s hand. Commissioned by members of the royal family or the royal court, such objects chronicled life within palace walls. Scenes on these vessels depicted intimate gatherings of the ruler and his closest confidantes. As a guest drank, he might turn the vessel to view the whole story and read the inscription around the rim, which might name the owner as well as the vessel’s intended use.  

This particular vessel tells a tale of social mobility. The inscription identifies the owner, the man seated on the dais with arm outstretched, as Naahbnal K’inich, a district governor (not a ruler) for the Río Azul area. Behind him are his brothers, and surrounding them are all his worldly goods, including three bags of beans, proudly presented as a display of wealth. That he, a secondary magistrate, could afford to commission this vessel, painted in the style of a royal palace scene but representing his household, signals his newly attained status.

—VL

Further Reading:

Delvendahl, Kai. Calakmul in Sight: History and Archaeology of an Ancient Maya City. 

Stephen Houston and Sarah Newman. Flores fragantes y bestuas fetidas: El olfato entre los mayas del Clasico. 23. Arqueologia Mexicana.

Provenance Statement:

Purchased from Spencer Throckmorton by Herbert L. Lucas, late 1980s. Purchased by Denver Art Museum from Herbert L. Lucas in January 2003
 

Exhibition History
  • "Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas"— J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 09/16/2017- 01/28/2018
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art, 02/28/2018 - 05/28/2018
  • “ReVision: Art in the Americas” — Denver Art Museum, 2/16/2020 – 11/8/2020