Ella Smit, Class of 2021

Classic Maya Polychrome Vase with Anthropomorphic Coyote
from Campeche, Mexico

Virtual Exhibit Video

The Life-Force of Mayan Ceramics

The Maya civilization is a complex society with a host of ritual and aesthetic practices placed at the forefront of all mortal and supernatural relationships. This paper seeks to unpack these complexities and provide a glimpse into the proximate relationship of ceramics and spirituality. Through the research I have compiled on two Maya vessels held at the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA)–– one bearing the iconography of an anthropomorphic coyote, and the other petals of a flower–– I will place the artistic aesthetics of these pieces in conversation with ritual practice. Ceramics provided a gateway into the realm of the mortal and supernatural, and I hope that, by and large, one is able to understand the awe-inducing influence these ritual practices leveraged on Maya society through these ceramics of the Classic period.

Read the entire paper…

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