Basin

Maya
Late Classic period
A.D. 550–750


Place of Manufacture: Belize

Catalogue Raisonné

MS1092; Kerr 1082 Maya Vase Book V.1 p. 57

Dimensions

34.8 x 40.8 cm (13 11/16 x 16 1/16 in.)

Accession Number

1988.1240

Medium or Technique

Earthenware: red and black on yellow-orange slip paint

On View

Ancient South America Gallery (Gallery LG33)

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Earthenware

Large basin painted with a depiction of a sacrificial rite involving warriors and battle captives. The four sets of figures include two pairs of warriors facing each other, all holding a shield and spear. A bound and bleeding captive sits on the ground between the two groups of warriors. A third set of figures features a nude male figure whose body is painted with horizontal stripes and who has undergone a sacrificial bloodletting right of penis perforation. He faces a warrior holding a shield and spear. A large dish holding a decapitated head sits on the ground between these two figures. The fourth grouping comprises two musicians playing long flutes and percussion instruments including a maraca and a small drum held under the arm (see 1988.1233 for an example of this type of drum). They are flanked by a bound and bleeding captive and a severed and bound human leg. A band of “kan” crosses encircles the basin below the red rim band.


Two individuals play musical accompaniment to a ceremony of ritual performance and the sacrifice of captured warriors. The flutes produced melodic tones that complemented the rhythmic sounds of the rattles and drums held under their arms. A third performer, painted with colored stripes, plays a conch-shell trumpet.

Provenance

Between about 1974 and 1981, probably purchased in Guatemala by John B. Fulling (b. 1924 – d. 2005), The Art Collectors of November, Inc., Pompano Beach, FL; May 20, 1987, sold by John B. Fulling to Landon T. Clay, Boston; 1988, year-end gift of Landon Clay to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 25, 1989)

NOTE: This is one in a group of Maya artifacts (MFA accession nos. 1988.1169 – 1988.1299) known as the “November Collection” after John Fulling’s company, the Art Collectors of November, Inc. John Fulling sold this group of objects to MFA donor Landon Clay in 1987, and they were given to the Museum the following year.
Evidence suggests that John Fulling built the November Collection from sources in Guatemala between 1974 and 1981. Only a portion of what he acquired during this time came to the MFA in 1988. It is not possible to determine precisely which objects were acquired when or from whom.

Credit Line

Gift of Landon T. Clay