Cylinder vase

Late Classic Period
A.D. 650–800

Object Place: southeastern Guatemala or southern Belize


Overall (H x D): 26 x 10.5 cm (10 1/4 x 4 1/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Earthenware wtih red, orange and black on cream slip paint

On View

Ancient Central America Gallery (Gallery LG32)





Two renderings of the so-called jaguar god of the Underworld (the underworld sun), one on each side of the vase, depict him seated on a throne of crossed femurs and disembodied eyes surrounded by the black waters of the Underworld. He holds a large sacrificial knife in his left hand, and blood splatters are found on his I-shaped pectoral and perhaps on his loincloth. The red background of the vase and the crossed femurs and eyeballs further invoke the theme of sacrifice. The two renderings of this supernatural are separated by a vertical stack of skeletal saurian heads that likely portray the witz/sacred mountain whose interior cave is the entrance to the Underworld realm.

The two hieroglyphic texts may be pseudo-glyphs although the lower band contains some readable signs. Their style recalls that of Copador pottery from Honduras and El Salvador as well as some pottery types from southern Belize and adjacent southeastern Guatemala. The texts may comprise a name or title sequence dof the jaguar god of the Underworld.

The jaguar god of the Underworld sits on his throne of crossed bones and brandishes a sacrificial blade.


By 1972, sold by Lee Moore (dealer), Miami, to Landon T. Clay, New Hampshire [see note]; 2004, year-end gift of Landon T. Clay to the MFA. (Accession Date: February 23, 2005)

NOTE: According to the donor at the time of the gift.

Credit Line

Gift of Landon T. Clay