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Maize God Emerging from a Flower

Arts of the Americas

This delicately modeled ceramic figurine depicts a bejeweled male figure emerging from a water lily. Hundreds of figurines in this style have been found on Jaina Island, just off Mexico’s Campeche coast. The island served as an elite Maya burial site.

The water lily is associated with the underworld in Maya cosmology. The figurine may symbolize the renewal of life after death, making it an especially appropriate burial offering.
MEDIUM Ceramic, pigment
  • Place Found: Campeche, Mexico
  • DATES 600–900
    PERIOD Late Classic Period
    DIMENSIONS 8 1/4 x 2 1/8 x 1 11/16 in. (21 x 5.4 x 4.3 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
    CREDIT LINE Dick S. Ramsay Fund
    PROVENANCE Prior to 1970, provenance not yet documented; by January, 1970, acquired by Alphonse Jax of New York, NY; April 15, 1970, purchased from Alphonse Jax by the Brooklyn Museum.
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    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION The delicately modeled ceramic figurine is Jaina in style and reveals the upper part of a figure emerging from a flower. The figure is red with ornaments (necklace, earrings, and headdress) in cream color. The tip of the headdress is blue. There are other trace amounts of blue on the stem and petals of the flower. The figure's arms are folded across the waist. The flower, possibly a water lily has three pointed petals: one is in the front-center section, turned downward, exposing the inside texture of the flower that is handled with an application of clay dots; a second stands upward in the back, enveloping the figure; and a third stands upward on the proper left side of the lily. Because the water lily is associated with the Underworld in Maya cosmology, this figurine may symbolize the renewal of life after death. Condition; good; there are two repaired breaks in the stem and two repaired breaks in the headdress. There are also two broken edges at the proper right side of the blue central portion of the headdress, probably where two appliquéd segments had been attached.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Maya. Maize God Emerging from a Flower, 600–900. Ceramic, pigment, 8 1/4 x 2 1/8 x 1 11/16 in. (21 x 5.4 x 4.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund, 70.31. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 70.31_overall_PS11.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 70.31_overall_PS11.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2022
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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