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Post Lot Text
MAYAN PAINTED CYLINDER VESSEL
LATE CLASSIC, CA. A.D.550-950
With gently flaring walls finely painted in codex style with the seated, handsome Hero Twins, each leaning forward and gesturing in an elegant manner with their right hands, the elongated fingers pointing to stacks of paper, placed on the ground before the Heroes, wearing layered sashed loincloth, weighty jade bead necklace and complex 'net' headdress, often associated with scribes, with fancy cotton tie incorporating a sinuous waterlily blossom emanating from the back and plumes sweeping downward towards the arms, a single waterlily blossom in the field, the upper and lower rims overlaid in lime green stucco.
A number of deities and mythological personages appear as pairs or triads in Mayan art and legend. The most famous of these were the Hero Twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque, whose adventures are recounted in the Popol Vuh, the most thorough epic of the creation of the Mayan people and the birth of their religion, which can be compared with the Greek Odyssey. Writing was one of the foremost achievements of the Maya civilization, and one with far-reaching effects on its intellectual culture and art. The vase's references to 'writing' permeate the iconography: the 'spangled turbans' associated with the aged god, Pawahtun (God N), a patron of scribes, the stacks of amate paper derived from the bark of the tropical fig tree (Ficus) see Art of the Maya Scribe, fig. 70, the kinship of the Hero Twins and their posture, sitting tailor-fashion, similar to that of their older half-brothers who were changed in to monkeys (see Robicsek, vessels 63 and 64) and became patrons gods of the scribes and the fact that Hunahpu is paired with his father as a scribe busily writing in a screenfold book in the several ceramics (Art of the Maya Scribe, fig. 78).
The vase exemplifies the remarkable control of fine line painting achieved by the artists of the Codex-style ceramics. Line is the primary expressive element in vase painting and this vase illustrates the complete brush control that created both delicate and bold outlines.