Urn with God N or Pahuahtun
Lidded urn that consists of a tetrapod base decorated with modeled shells and conch shells attached with apliqué technique. It has four cylindrical supports. The conical lid shows a modeled figure of God N, or a Pahuahtun, emerging from a conch shell that he carries as a hat.
The visible parts are the head, the face of a smiling old man, part of the hair or cloth on the forehead, and his arms, flexed on each side but with the hands extended towards the front. The cover is also decorated with shells and conch shells.
During the Early Classic period, the city of Teotihuacan in Central Mexico, was one of the most powerful cities of Mesoamerica. Archaeological findings indicate that Teotihuacan had a strong presence in Guatemala, especially in the Pacific Coast, Kaminaljuyú (in the central volcanic chain) and the Maya lowlands. It’s presence is reflected in locally-made objects that were inspired by the art of this great city, such as the lidded incense burners whose lids are decorated with a variety of symbolic elements, sometimes painted in various colors and often centered around a human face. The techniques to decorate such lids -with flowers, shells, and other figures- included appliqué, clay modeling, and painting. Teotihuacan's influence was also felt strongly in tripod cylindrical vessels and in the architecture of some buildings, such as the ones seen in Tikal.
In the Maya worldview, both the heavens and the earth were supported by "carriers", being the Bacabs (or Bacauob) the carriers of the earth plane (represented as old gods with a tortoise shell) and the Pawahtuns (or Pawahtunob) the carriers of heaven (represented as old gods emerging from snail shells). However, the carriers of heaven and earth could be represented either with turtle or snail traits. Both turtles and snails are associated with rebirth; the turtle shell being a metaphor for the land that separates the sky from the underworld. Snails, on the other hand, usually give shape to God N, and because of their association to water and their coiled shape, have connotations of fertility and rebirth.