Cylinder vase

Late Classic Period
A.D. 650–800

Place of Manufacture: El Petén, Guatemala, Tikal-Uaxactún area

Catalogue Raisonné

MS1122; Kerr 1377


25.4 x 15.3 cm (10 x 6 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Earthenware: orange, red, dark pink, white, and black on cream slip paint

On View

Ancient Central America Gallery (Gallery LG32)





Black background vase with a painted scene of heart sacrifice of a male figure who may be Hun Hun Ajaw (the Maize god). Rising from his open chest cavity is an effigy incense burner topped by an offering plate containing burning strips of paper and a ball of copal incense. The sacrificed figure lies atop a stone altar, and a female figure seated in front of the altar bends forward at the waist and hides her head between her extended arms. Two buildings, rendered in profile, flank the sacrifice scene, their stone roofs embellished with the heads of the supernatural Paddler Twins. Inside one building a male figure sits on a red-painted bench throne, and a red-painted figure dances in front of the other building. He pulls on a white umbilicus-like cord that is held by a person inside the building and behind a codex that rests on a low zoomorphic bench or stand. An elderly male wearing a long cape made of feathers and knotted cording stands next to the sacrificed person on the altar. Six other figures, including two dwarfs, the Principle Bird Deity, and six animals (five rats and one bat) also are present. Hieroglyphic texts include the Primary Standard Sequence around the vase’s rim and short phrases within the scene. One records the mythological Calendar Round date of the event, the phrase continuing to a second glyph block to the right that contains the verb (eroded) describing the event. A third short text names the red-painted figure pulling on the cord.

The Maize god is sacrificed in the Underworld, setting the stage for renewal through resurrection.


Primary Standard Sequence, short texts within the scene.


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