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Mayan Vase, probably area of Calakmul (84.179)

Mayan Vase
Vase with Glyphs
Mexico, perhaps Campeche
Maya, Late Classic
ca. 600-900 CE
Gift of Bernard Sperling

Director's Comments
I don't know anything about Yopat B'alam (except that the name may mean 'crown-jaguar'), but it seems this vessel was made for him as "his cup for fruity [cacao]." The glyphic inscription was read for us by Harvard University's David Stuart, while Barbara Fash assisted in explaining the iconographic forms depicted on the vessel's body.

Mayan iconography forces us to step beyond debates over conventional meaning and consider both what an object means (especially in the Panofskian sense) but also how it means. That appeals to me in particular because I study the iconography of the so-called Southeastern Ceremonial Complex (SECC), a religious and artistic style that linked parts of eastern North America - including Missouri - from about 1100-1400CE. Such iconographic systems are just as complex and formal as more familiar European or South Asian examples, but because we lack most of the narratives behind them we must interpret them based almost solely on the visual cues contained within the representations themselves.

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