Vessel with Water Lily and Underworld Imagery

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Vessel with Water Lily and Underworld Imagery

Guatemala, Guatemala Highlands, Maya, A.D. 500-800
Furnishings; Serviceware
Slip-painted ceramic
Height: 7 7/8 in. (20 cm); Diameter: 9 5/8 in. (24.45 cm)
Gift of Camilla Chandler Frost (M.2009.93)
Not currently on public view

Curator Notes

Late Classic period (AD 550-850) Mayan ceramic vessels from the northern lowlands of Guatemala and southern Mexico are well-known in the archaeological record and in museum and private collections....
Late Classic period (AD 550-850) Mayan ceramic vessels from the northern lowlands of Guatemala and southern Mexico are well-known in the archaeological record and in museum and private collections. Much rarer are examples from the southern Maya highlands of Guatemala, where a series of cities flourished between 200 BC through the arrival of Spaniards in the early sixteenth century. This vessel represents the finest of highland Mayan ceramic artistry in its large scale and in its dense and deeply carved imagery. The scene depicts natural and composite creatures of the watery Maya underworld, from fish and turtle to water lilies and the skeletal being known as the Water Lily Monster. Two figures represent deities presiding over this underworld realm. The vessel is a significant addition to LACMA's collection of art from the ancient Americas not only because of its rarity and extraordinary carved image but also because it completes the presentation of the primary landscapes of Mesoamerican cosmology, pertaining to celestial, terrestrial, and underworld realms. (Virginia Fields, Senior Curator Art of the Ancient Americas, 2009)
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Exhibition history

  • The Ancient Maya World: Masterworks from the Permanent Collection Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, December 1, 2012 - March 2, 2014