Cylinder vase

Late Classic Period
A.D. 650–800

Object Place: Department of El Petén, Guatemala

Catalogue Raisonné

MS1085; Kerr 595


21.7 x 13.4 cm (8 9/16 x 5 1/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Earthenware: red, dark orange, black, brown and white on orange ground slip paint

Not On View





Vase’s scene depicts a mythological event taking place in the underworld. A male figure, perhaps one of the Hero Twins, emerges from the maw of a large water-saurian. Two supernatural beings attack him with long spears. Three other supernaturals, one holding a long spear and another grasping an axe, squat in front of and on a witz-mountain-cave that identifies the location of this mythological event. A typical Primary Standard Sequence hieroglyphic text encircles the upper rim of the vase, and a second text withint the scene gives the date (3 Ik’) of the event and names the main participants Minor amounts of modern repainting are found on the smaller supernatural beings and at the bottom of the scene.


Between about 1974 and 1978, 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 vessel was included in the exhibition "Lords of the Underworld: Masterpieces of Classic Maya Ceramics," The Art Museum, Princeton University, 1978, cat. no. 12. It 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