K'iché burial or cache urn lid

Late Classic Period
A.D. 650–850

Object Place: K'iche, Guatemala, Southern Highlands


58.5 x 58.5 cm (23 1/16 x 23 1/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Earthenware: white, black, yellow, and red paint

On View

Ancient Central America Gallery (Gallery LG32)





The semi-hemispherical lid of this burial or cache urn is embellished with a sculpted and painted rendering of a seated anthropomorphic bat with large round ears, open mouth, protruding tongue, and front paws resting on bent knees. The bat wears a twisted scarf and crenelated collar, which may make reference to one of the supernatural jaguars associated with the underworld and sacrifice. The side of the lid is embellished with two wide strap handles flanked by double vertical rows of large spikes painted white. These resemble the spiked white trunk of the ceiba tree.

A large-eared bat perches on this urn, whose body combines images of a jaguar with the spikes of the “ceiba” tree, the mythic world tree-pillar of the universe and conduit to the spiritual realm.


About 1971-1973, purchased in Guatemala by John B. Fulling (b. 1924 – d. 2005), Lighthouse Point, Florida; 1987, year-end gift of John B. Fulling to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 20, 1988)

Credit Line

Gift of John B. Fulling