Pre-Columbian Art – Mayan Drinking Vessel

Posted by Timothy on 7/1/2014 to Ancient Artifacts and Culture
Let us take the time to focus on Pre-Columbian Art, specifically a Mayan Drinking Vessel. Consider product 45171 from the Sadigh Gallery, the description is:

Cylindrical terracotta drinking vessel with seated male warriors in elaborate feathered costumes and headdresses. Shades of red, beige, brown, and orange. Dark patina.

Upon observation and reflection, many questions and narratives unravel.

What serious warriors? With tactical headdress and clothing for battle, at rest. What enemies do they have lurking in the jungles around them, during their brief respite? Where these mere drinking vessels only for warrior’s? What families may they have as they sit in contemplative but silence full of energy and adrenaline? Their eyes portray this focus of readiness. What strong brews would accompany their brief rest? Notice the warriors are sitting, as if in a war ritual, legs crossed lotus style. This moment frozen in time.

What does history have to tell us, about Mayan pottery and culture?

Pre-Columbian Art is classified as the visual art of indigenous peoples living in the Caribbean and the Americas before the arrival of European influence (Hence the name, which references Christopher Columbus). Art that was produced in these areas between 1200 BCE and 1500 CE is considered Pre-Columbian. To distinguish the major characteristics between cultures, three general divisions are commonly made: the Pre-Classic period (up to 200 CE); the Classic period (200-900 CE) and the Post-Classic period (900-1580 CE). During these time periods a wide variety of indigenous art was produced including sculptures, paintings, pottery and textiles.

The most widespread culture in the Pre-Classic period was the Olmec civilization. The Olmecs were the first major civilization in Mexico; they lived in the modern-day states of Veracruz and Tabasco. Prevalent Olmec artifacts include jade figurines, colossal sculptural heads, and large ceremonial centers. Common motifs of their art are downturned mouths and cleft heads. The later Classic period is associated with the Mayans, who lived in large agricultural communities. Mayan art has a high level of aesthetic sophistication and shows an accurate observation of the human figure. Most of their art was in the form of reliefs and surface decorations in addition to sculptures. Agriculture, fertility, and rain were common subjects of Mayan art. The Post-Classic period was dominated by the enormous sculptures of the Toltecs. Interestingly, the Aztec culture of Mexico viewed the Toltecs as their intellectual predecessors.

Pre-Columbian art is beautiful and interesting, which is why it is highly desirable to many collectors throughout the world. It is important, however, that collectors realize that there are a large number of forgeries on the market today. For this reason, it is advisable that prospective buyers thoroughly investigate the provenance of each piece and research the reputability of any authentication. For the finest authentic Pre-Columbian Maya pottery and artifacts available to the normal consumer, please visit, browse and shop Sadigh Gallery.