Tripod plate with rattle feet

Late Classic Period
A.D. 600–750

Place of Origin: Department of El Petén, Guatemala, Tikal area


Overall: Diam: 39.5 cm (15 9/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Earthenware with red, orange, and black on cream slip decoration

On View

Ancient Central America Gallery (Gallery LG32)





“Supported on tripod rattle legs encircled by a stepped band, the tondo brightly painted with a warrior, possibly one of the Hero Twins displaying insignia of Xbalanque with spotted cheek, holding a trophy-head by a long hank of hair, and a long staff in the left hand wrapped with blood-spattered cloths, wearing a distinctive shaggy costume with tail, a pectoral of crossed bones with scarf below, his headband with large beads securing thick coiffure and a streamer flowing at the back, flanked by seven glyphs, the three on the left noting the date of the event and possibly the name of the decapitated individual, the right upper hand glyph possibly naming the central figure, and the walls encircled by repeat glyphs and jaguar pelt motifs.” [from Sotheby’s catalogue text]

Torture and sacrifice were crucial rituals that sought to ensure the balance of the universe. Here, a sacrificial decapitation reenacts that of the Maize god by the lords of the Underworld, leading to his resurrection.


Peter G. Wray Collection, Scottsdale, Arizona, collected sometime between 1977 and 1981 (according to David Joraleman, former curator of that collection); sold Sotheby's, New York, November 26, 1985, lot 93; to private collection; sold Sotheby's, New York, Sale N07996, lot 193, May 14, 2004; to MFA, June 2004, purchase.

Credit Line

Gift of Lavinia and Landon T. Clay