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Rare Mayan Rabbit "Paint Pot" Suspension Vessel with Head Rattle

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Americas: Pre Columbian: Pottery: Pre AD 1000: Item # 1260877
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This scarce piece is a Mayan ceramic that dates circa 600-900 A.D. This piece is approximately 7 inches long, by 4.5 inches high, and is in superb intact condition with only a few minute abrasions. This piece also has an attractive orange and light brown polychrome glaze, with some heavy and spotty black mineral deposits. This interesting vessel is in the form of a sitting rabbit, and has all four legs tucked under the body. There is also a single rattle that is built into the animated hollow head, and rattles of this type are normally seen in the rounded hollow legs of select Mayan tripod vessels. This appealing vessel is designed to sit horizontally as a rabbit would be at rest, and also upright, as if the rabbit is raised up on it's hind legs. In addition, there are three suspension holes, one under each front leg, and one that runs through the head. This allowed one to control a liquid that could then be poured from the raised hole that is seen on the upper back of the rabbit. This piece also has a black Mayan mat symbol which is painted on the belly of the rabbit. The rabbit, for the Maya, was a deity associated with scribal or artistic roles, and was the patron god of the Mayan scribe. According to Michael Coe in "The Art of the Maya Scribe", Abrams Pub., New York, 1998, p. 110: "The much illustrated little Rabbit God writing a codex on the Princeton Vase makes only one showing as a scribe in the art of the classic Maya. He must be the same rabbit that the Maya saw on the face of the moon, and is iconographically linked with the Moon Goddess, who often is depicted holding him in her arms." The piece offered here may represent a scribe as a rabbit, but more likely it represents the "Rabbit God" himself, who also doubles as the patron god of the Mayan scribes. This vessel may also have been a "paint pot" for a Mayan scribe and/or it may also have been a votive vessel for an important individual such as a Mayan scribe. The artistic style of the painted black Mayan mat seen on this piece, is also analogous to the painted mats seen on "Copador" type vessels. The name "Copador" is a contraction of Copan and El Salvador, and refers to the zone of distribution for this type of vessel. This piece may also refer to the 13th ruler of Copan, "18 Rabbit", who acceded to the throne circa 695 A.D., and ruled for 43 years. Under his rule in Copan, Copan's population was growing as never before, and the "Copador" polychrome ware was being manufactured and distributed over a wide area in the Mayan world. This energetic ruler erected many monuments, including one of the largest ballcourts (Ballcourt A-III), which was second only to the Great Court at Chichen Itza. Linda Schele also felt that this ruler was also the greatest single patron of the arts in Copan's history, based on the number of works and the high-relief style of carving. (See "Scribes, Warriors, and Kings", by William Fash, Thames and Hudson Pub., 1991, p. 125.) Hence, it's quite possible that the vessel offered here also referred to this ruler of Copan, in addition to representing the "Rabbit God" of the Mayan scribes. This piece is a rare intact Mayan vessel designed in animal form, and full bodied Mayan "animal form" type ceramics are seldom seen on the market. Ex: William Freeman estate, New Mexico, circa 1960's-1980's. Ex: Private AZ. collection, circa 1990's. (Note: Additional documentation is available to the purchaser, including EU Export and US Customs Import documentation.) I certify that this piece is authentic as to date, culture, and condition: