Sihyah Chan K'awill Vase
Polychrome vase with palace scene. Due to the scarcity of carved stone monuments, the historical reconstruction of the royal dynasty at the "Ik" polity (Motul de San José, Petén), has depended on the courtly scenes captured in the polychrome vessels of the region. On this vase we can see a scene in which four characters interact around a man of higher rank. In the background columns and hanging curtains, elements often found in such scenes, can be seen.
The two characters standing in front of the main character, probably represent members of foreign elites, or of the royal court. The first one is offering a bowl to the ruler, while another one behind him, looks closely in a position of respect, as denoted by the left arm draped over his shoulder. The associated hieroglyphic text identifies him as a noble military, identified by the titles b'aah pakal ch'ok 'ajk'uhu'n' anaab '"first shield, young priest, worshiper".
The other two characters are just behind the main character, one of them has a long skirt with jaguar spots and an associated text that identifies him with the titles ch'ok 'anaab'. The fourth one is a very peculiar charaacter, a dwarf memeber of the court. This dwarf plays an important role in the scene, as the movement that he portrays with his head turned over his shoulder, represents a stylistic canon used by Mayan painters, which attempt to unify the whole scene, drawing the attention of the viewer to the main scene. The main character is an obese ruler, with an elaborate feather headdress and a mask of a huge toad, with its own headband of the "Jester God". Behind him, we see a bench and an obsidian mirror where he sees at himself. The associated hieroglyphic text identifies him as a ruler of the the Motul de San José polity: 'Ub'aah joyal Sihyaj Chan K'awiil k'uhul "Ik" ajaw "the image [of the] inauguration [in the power of] Sihyaj K'awiil Chan, divine lord [of the Polity] "Ik".
A characteristic feature of the vessels made in the region of Motul de San José, is the type of masks used by the characters, which were nicknamed by Michael D. Coe as "X-ray masks", as they are an artistic convention in which the painter allows to know the identity of the character as well as his supernatural traits. The names of the Mayan rulers usually identified them as gods exerting an action, in this case, the theonym found this vase, Sihyaj Chan K'awiil can be translated as "the god K'awiil born from heaven."
Camilo Alejandro Luin, Epigrapher
This vase is being studied by Guatemalan epigrapher Camilo Alejandro Luín, as part of the Foundation's Policy by which all the Pre-Columbian collection is available to researchers and students.
This vase, was repatriated to Guatemala in 2009, as part of a lot of Pre-Columbian objects that were in the United States.