Cylinder vase

Late Classic Period
A.D. 550–650

Object Place: Department of El Petén, Guatemala, Tikal region

Catalogue Raisonné



26.5 x 18.3 cm (10 7/16 x 7 3/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Earthenware: red, orange, gray (originally green), and black on cream slip paint

Not On View





The narrative scene depicts an enema ritual with ten human male participants, including a dancer dressed as the Maize god (the “Holmul Dancer”). The other nine participants are seated. One holds a water jar filled with the enema fluid, above which is a wooden plate filled with a stack of tamales. He faces a figure holding a small drinking cup and a person holding an enema syringe. Behind these three men is a grouping of four figures wearing elaborate headdresses, the eroded condition of this part of the vase having damaged most of the imagery. Two additional seated figures face a serpent from whose open maw emerges the deity Its’amnaj. An idiosyncratic version of the Primary Standard Sequence, typical of this pottery style, encirles the rim of the vase. Two hieroglyphic phrases are found in front of the dancer, one of which describes the dance event. The details of the other 3-glyph phrase are eroded. Some modern repainting especially of the outlines of the figures.


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