Arts of the Americas
On View: Arts of the Americas Galleries, 5th Floor
The use of animal imagery to support divine rule and convey military strength was common among the ancient Maya, whose Classic period dated from 250 to 900 in a region that encompasses modern-day Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, and portions of southern Mexico. This small ceramic figurine of a nobleman has a removable serpent-headed headdress decorated with the precious and sacred tail feathers of the iridescent-green quetzal bird, which is associated with the feathered-serpent deity Kukulcán. The ceramic vessel displayed here features a procession of eleven military victors following a naked, bound prisoner. Each warrior wears a tie-dyed textile, a trophy head suspended from his belt, and an animal headdress that may represent his warrior society.
ca. 550-950 C.E.
6 1/4 x 5 3/8 x 5 3/8 in. (15.9 x 13.7 x 13.7 cm) (show scale)
Gift in memory of Frederic Zeller
Polychrome vessel with a procession of warrior figures with trophy heads hanging from their waists surrounding a bound prisoner who has been stripped of his clothes except for a trophy head (possibly a disgraced warrior). The prisoner's penis has been split in two and as blood drips down, he screams in pain (the speech glyphs above his head indicate screaming). The figure behind him holds an executioner's staff topped with a large obsidian knife.
Maya. Cylindrical Vessel, ca. 550-950 C.E. Ceramic, pigment, 6 1/4 x 5 3/8 x 5 3/8 in. (15.9 x 13.7 x 13.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift in memory of Frederic Zeller, 1998.176.2. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1998.176.2.jpg)
overall, 1998.176.2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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This cylindrical vessel features a procession of warriors. If you look closely you'll notice that they are carrying trophy heads at their waists.