Mayan Vessel in the Form of a Hunchback - PF.6083
Origin: El Salvador
Circa: 300 AD to 900 AD
Dimensions: 7.5" (19.1cm) high
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Style: Mayan
Medium: Terracotta


This peach-colored vessel depicts a rotund seated figure with his arm placed at his sides. He wears a wide loincloth; a sash that secures it in place is visible stretching along his back. His face is unusually modeled. A prominent crest rises from his ear to the center of his head where it dramatically stops. A similar protrusion rises from his other ear and partially covers his brow. These features, when combined with his deeply recessed eyes and dramatic under bite, suggest that this figure might represent a deformed individual, perhaps a hunchback. Oddities of nature, instead of being shunned as they were in many civilizations throughout the world, were honored among several Pre-Columbian cultures. In fact, hunchbacks were specifically revered, believed to possess special supernatural power bestowed upon them by the gods, thus explaining their unique appearance. The rank of this figure is revealed by the necklace he wears with a large ovular central pendant, most likely made of jade. Such luxurious adornments were reserved for the upper classes, suggesting that this may in fact be a hunchback shaman. Such a vessel clearly had a prominent ceremonial function. Sacred beverages must have been sipped from it during religious rituals. Even today, the Maya are known to consume specific traditional drinks during spiritual ceremonies, a practice that must date back to the height of their civilization. Was this vessel once the sacred possession of a powerful shaman? Discovered buried inside a tomb, this work surely played as important a role in this world as it did in the afterlife. - (PF.6083)



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