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HOME : PRE COLUMBIAN ART : Pre-Columbian Art Collection/ HK : Mayan Polychrome Bowl in the Form of a Frog
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Mayan Polychrome Bowl in the Form of a Frog - PF.3099
Origin: San Salvador, El Salvador
Circa: 600 AD to 900 AD
Dimensions: 5" (12.7cm) high x 6.25" (15.9cm) wide
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Additional Information: Hong-Kong
Location: UAE
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Maya art is a complex of symbols with profound important social functions. It was mainly commissioned by kings and other high elite to fulfill their political and social missions. In many ways, Maya art is best understood, not as the portrait of people, but as the portrait of ritual. The combination of writing with imagery allowed the time, location, action and actor to be described with absolute precision. Glyphic texts reinforced visual narratives recording rituals, documenting a specific ritual involving a named individual at a particular time and place. There is glyphic text encircling the top of this bowl with alternating glyphs and the Maya number "8". The number "8" is represented by the "line and three dot" motif and was painted with a bold black outlining brush and then filled in with a lighter shade of gray. There is something unusual concerning the figurative glyph in that it is facing to the right, which is actually backwards in the Maya glyphic texts. The glyph may represent a hidden message for a particular individual who used the bowl during a ritual. The entire bowl is painted in black, gray, orange and red while the natural color of the clay creates the light yellow background. Special attention has been given to the colored bands encircling the vessel and the geometric designs in black and orange. There is a black pattern design on the frog's chest, back and side areas, which continues up to the naturalistic head with wide mouth and bulging eyes. The artist has molded the subtle curves of the frog's legs with such sensitivity and absolute symmetry that it continues to be a joy to be held in your hands even today. There is a sense of sensuality and power that has reached us across the centuries, even though the message of this bowl in relation to the ritualistic Maya world and to the Maya cosmos remains unknown. - (PF.3099)


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