Vessel of the Dancing Lords – Ah Maxam (active mid-/late 8th century)

Ah Maxam (active mid-/late 8th century)A.D. 750/800


According to ancient Maya belief, after several failed attempts, the gods succeeded in populating the earth when they created humanity out of maize, the staff of life. In the “Popol Vuh,” the sixteenth-century epic of the K’iche’ Maya, the death and resurrection of the maize god was likened to seed corn that sprouted and produced new life. This vessel from the Late Classic period (600/800) depicts a Maya ruler attired as the maize god in three almost-identical panels. On his back, the ruler wears an enormous rack containing brilliant feathers, heraldic beasts, and related emblems. Just as maize plants sway to and fro, the maize god dances to the rhythm of life—often, as seen here, in the company of a dwarf. Among the Maya, dwarfs were viewed as special beings with powerful spiritual connections to the earth and underworld. This vessel may refer to a rite of passage in which dwarfs assist the soul of the deceased into the domain of the dead, from which it would be eventually reborn in the royal lineage, just as maize sprouts again in the cycle of nature’s renewal. This vessel appears to have been painted as a funerary offering for a noblewoman with dynastic connections in the city of Naranjo, where it was made.— Entry, <em>Essential Guide</em>, 2009, p. 23.


  • 标题: Vessel of the Dancing Lords
  • 创作者: Ah Maxam (active mid-/late 8th century)
  • 创作日期: A.D. 750/800
  • 实际尺寸: 24 × 15.8 cm (9 1/2 × 6 1/4 in.)
  • 类型: Vessel
  • 外部链接: The Art Institute of Chicago
  • Media: Ceramic and pigment
  • Culture/Place: Late Classic Maya; Vicinity of Naranjo, Petén region, Guatemala
  • Credit Line: The Art Institute of Chicago, Ethel T. Scarborough Fund, 1986.1081
  • Artist: Ah Maxam (active mid-/late 8th century)


The Art Institute of Chicago

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