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COLLECTION D'UN GRAND AMATEUR D'OUTRE-ATLANTIQUE
Post Lot Text
MAYAN PAINTED PLATE
LATE CLASSIC, CA. A.D. 550-950
Finely painted in codex style depicting a complete, self-contained scene of a victorious warrior, the self-possessed figure seated with legs raised on a plump bolster which rests on and forms part of the swirling body of a War Serpent (an aspect of the Vision Serpent), a "kin" emblem on his snout and a crisscrossed trapezoidal protrusion from the back denoting "war", with large Tlaloc-like head (a frequent figure in Teotihuacan painted ceramics) as the supporting platform, with goggle eyes peering from below, the warrior-knight with eyes downward-cast and lips parted, a speech scroll before him with the "u", or earth, wearing a bouffant jaguar-spotted turban incorporating further devices associated with warfare including the trapezoidal projection, a spotted loincloth and similarly patterned, arching backrack and jewelry, holding a long and emblem-laden staff adorned with a ferocious Vision Serpent's head with flames projecting from the its jaws, further curving flames spilling over the sides, painted in umber on the cream ground with the rim in reddish brown ; ritual kill-hole.
The term Codex style refers to the usage of monochrome painting on a cream background accompanied by variations in the black-brown slip. It is clear that the artists working in this technique were familiar with inscribing the folding-screen books that the Maya made of bark paper coated with stucco. These codices are most often associated with the Aztec and are filled with the colorful pictographs. The perforation in the center of the lak, plate, appears to be a ceremonial "killing" of a ceramic(or gold object) in order to liberate it from the soul of their previous owner, or to permit the soul of the object to accompany the deceased into the land of the dead.
Within the context of this receptacle for offerings or food, there are several unique elements : the subtle and blatant juxtaposition of "war" iconography with tie-ins to Teotihuacan with the trapezoidal badge(also interpreted as the Teotihuacan year symbol see Perelman, fig.51), the unique seated position of the lord, here not cross-legged as is the stereotype, but knees flexed and daintily posed on the serpent's back is distantly reminiscent of the more dramatic pose of Pacal on his sarcophagus lid (see pl. IIId, Blood of the Kings) who sits atop the Quadripartite Sun Monster, and the use of Yucatec dialect by the victorious lord surrounded by Teotihuacan symbols.
The cream-colored surface of this funerary dish has been exquisitely painted as a complete tableau by an artist with great mastery of the fine line codex technique.