Overall: 22.8 x 24.7 x 18 cm (9 x 9 3/4 x 7 1/16 in.)
Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 1997.60
Maya artwork from the Early Classic Period (about AD 250-600) is dominated by three-dimensional sculpture in jade, stone, wood, and especially ceramic. This vessel is an exceptionally elegant example of Maya blackware, produced by firing earthenware pottery in a reducing (low oxygen) atmosphere. The deer is frequently depicted in Maya art, usually as a victim of either hunting or sacrifice. Venus signs and conch shells engraved on the deer also suggest death, for the planet Venus was regarded as a bringer of ill-fortune, and conch shell trumpets were carried by hunters. The small frog or toad pressed firmly under the deer's hoof relates to agricultural fertility. The croaking of these amphibians was a harbinger of rain.
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