Lot 143
  • 143

Maya Lidded Polychrome Effigy Vessel Early Classic, circa AD 250-450

20,000 - 30,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • ceramic
  • Height of jar: 5 in (14.9 cm); height of lid: 4 in (10.3 cm)


Private Collection, Florida
Fine Arts of the Americas, New York, acquired from the above in early-mid 1970s
European Private Collection, acquired from the above on March 14, 1979


Denver Art Museum, Denver, long tern loan, 1998 - 2017

Catalogue Note

Early Classic vessels are the most dynamic sculptural form of Maya ceramics for depicting mythological themes. This vessel shows the long-necked cormorant catching a fish in its beak, illustrating this mythical pursuit in both sculptural and polychrome style. The birds head with arched neck and long powerful beak form the lids handle, the fish is both modelled and painted on the lid and continues in painted form on the vessel, its forked tail dripping with tendrils of water. The birds feathered wings fan across each side, and the birds feet and tail form the tripod supports of the vase.

The fishing cormorant references the iconography of the mediators of the three levels of the universe, becoming a supernatural traversing of the celestial sky, watery surface and underworld. For Early Classic blackware ceramics of this important theme, see the Jay C. Leff vessel in Easby, Ancient Art of Latin America from the  Collection of Jay C. Leff, New York, 1966, p. 103, fig. 456; see also Fields and Reents-Budet, Lords of Creation: The Origins of Sacred Maya Kingship, London, 2005, p. 128, fig. 32, fig. 33 for a polychrome example, and p. 209, fig. 103 for a similar vessel.