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Earthenware with colored slips
Overall: 59 x 26 x 22 cm (23 1/4 x 10 1/4 x 8 11/16 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1994.12.2
These figures represent the supernatural patrons of the visual arts and writing: the brothers Hun Batz and Hun Chuen ("One Monkey" and "One Artisan"). The two were refined artists but also bullies who tormented their younger brothers, who took revenge by transforming their elders into monkeys. Many Maya representations of the painter-scribes immortalize this fate by depicting the pair with both simian and human features, as here. The brothers are shown engaged in artistic or scribal pursuits. Sitting on high-domed bases that may have served as the lids of incense or offering bowls, each apparently once grasped a tool in his upper hand—for instance, a paint brush or a stylus for writing. In the lower hand, one cradles a small mask and the other, a piece of bark that likely refers to the beaten bark from which the Maya made books.
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