This vase is considered one of the finest examples of Maya painting. The artist's mastery of the watercolor-like quality of slip paint is particularly remarkable here. Notice the subtle washes on the bodies, extremely difficult to achieve with clay-based paints. The scene depicts the birth of the Maize god, flanked by a supernatural with jaguar attributes and another with Sun-god features. The white umbilical cord that unifies the scene also encouraged the viewer to rotate the vase. The hieroglyphic text records the birth's mythological date and supernatural locale, Na-Ho-Chan (Five Sky House).


  • Title: Cylinder vase
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 755 - 780
  • Physical Dimensions: w120 x h225 mm
  • Type: Ceramics-Pottery-Earthenware
  • Rights: Gift of Landon T. Clay. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. All Rights Reserved.
  • External Link: http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/cylinder-vase-36324
  • Medium: Earthenware: red, orange, ochre, brown, gray (originally green), and black on cream slip paint
  • Period, era, dynasty, reign: Late Classic period
  • City, state, country: Motul de San José area, El Petén, Guatemala

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