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Cylinder Vase
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Cylinder Vase

Description Exhibitions Provenance Credit
Description Three of the most prominent shamanic transformation spirits decorate this drinking vessel. Such pictorial programs featuring spirit companions frequently include short hieroglyphic phrases that name each being, the phrase beginning with the glyph u-way "his nagual/animal spirit companion," followed by the being's name.1 Although no such texts are found on this vase, other vessels' imagery records the name of the jaguar figure (a) as tzuk-ch'ok? hix "enema jaguar." The second way (b) seems to be a variant of the "Enema God A-Prime" being because here he appears to hold an enema bag in his extended arm. The third way (c) is the … chih "deer-monkey" entity which frequently wears a wide collar adorned with eyeballs. All three beings have connections to the use of enemas by shamans to ingest psychoactive substances to assist their spiritual transformation. The painter of this vase used rich red slip paint, expertly manipulating the pigment- loaded brush to produce a varied hue intensity to accentuate select areas. Such fine technique also draws our attention to the inherent visual qualities of water-based slip paints which further highlights the artist's sophisticated aesthetic practice. Of special note is the gray slip that embellishes such items as the figures' wrist and ankle bands, the quetzal bird feathers in their costumes, the jaguar's water lily flower atop its head, and the jars filled with the enema concoction. This unique slip was originally green, and Classic Maya painters used it to color precious objects-here jadeite jewelry, quetzal feathers, the enema jars, and the spirit beings themselves.
  • Exploring Art of the Ancient Americas: The John Bourne Collection Gift. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville. 2012-2013.
  • Transformation: Art of the Ancient Americas. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2018-2019.
Provenance Private collection, Florida; Ron Messick Fine Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico; purchased by John G. Bourne, Sante Fe, 2001; given to John G. Bourne Foundation, 2001 [1]; given to Walters Art Museum, 2013. [1] according to Bourne Foundation accounts
Credit Gift of John G. Bourne Foundation, 2013

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650-800 CE (Late Classic)
earthenware, slip paint
Accession Number
H: 8 11/16 x Diam: 5 13/16 in. (22.07 x 14.73 cm)


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