Animals

Birds

J_Birds 1

Details of a Classic period black-and-white Maya vase animating on rotation the beating of a parrot’s wings.

Animation extracted and adapted from Kerr 1989:78, file no. 1383.

J_Birds 2

Details of a Classic period orange-, red- and black-painted Maya vase animating, on rotation, the movement of a fishing water bird-composite with deity face forming its chest.

At the same time, the turning of the ceramic causes the face of the aged deity to raise up with the movement of the bird’s body and change the direction of his gaze. The old deity exhibits a prominent forehead and aquiline nose and markings around his eyes and mouth; he also displays what resemble fish-barbels for a beard, tying him into the overall water theme of the scene.

Within the same rotation of the vase, the fish the bird grasps in its long beak, possibly a species of puffer fish, such as the checkered puffer, squirms, while simultaneously, appearing to swell in size to exhibit checkered markings.

Animation extracted and adapted from Kerr 1992:424, file no. 3536.

J_Birds 3

Details of a Classic period polychrome vase that, on rotation in the viewer’s hands, animate the fast movement of a hummingbird’s blurred wings. The red painted bird displays small kin’ ‘sun’ signs half way down its long beak, a mnemonic to the animal’s close tie to the sun.

Animation extracted and adapted from Kerr 1994:583, file no. 4675.

Serpents

J_Serpent 1

Classic period incised Maya vase displaying a serpent animated to unroll in two steps as the vessel is rotated in the viewer’s hands. Horizontal lines on the original vase anchor the serpent, showing it moving along the ground.

The artist’s choice to depict the serpent with three rattle tail segments represents a reminder of the Maya notion of three-part time driving the serpent’s movement.

Animation extracted and adapted from Kerr 1992:425, file no. 3622.

Details showing animation of a serpent coiling around a ruler.

J_Serpent 1

Late Classic Maya polychrome vase animating a serpent to coil its body around a lord sitting cross-legged atop a cushion covered in jaguar pelt; three-dot clusters mark the jaguar pelt to form a mnemonic of the Maya notion of three-part time driving the animation. The first scene shows the serpent rearing up before the seated lord, its tail wrapped around its own ‘neck’ to form a large oval. The lord stretches his flattened palm towards the reptile’s wide-open maw, possibly in a taming gesture. From its maw issue red breath or sound scrolls, which the lord touches with his thumb. Then, on turning of the vase, the serpent has enclosed the lord, now sitting within the oval cartouche formed by its reptilian body. The lord holds the serpent’s body in both hands, seemingly at peace, he lowers his head. Moreover, the lord now wears an elaborate feathered headdress, to signal his taming of the serpent having conferred special power upon his person. The image is reminiscent of Maya glyphs, such as at Quirigua, where writhing figures appear contained within carved hieroglyphic cartouches.

Animation extracted and adapted from vessel no 40908; Courtesy of Princeton University Art Museum; purchase, Fowler McCormick, Class of 1921.

Monkeys

J_Monkeys 1

Classic period polychrome Maya vase, which, on turning, animates a monkey raising both its arms into the air to suck its thumb. At the same time, the canoe-like receptacle carrying the monkey, balanced atop a long-snouted head with large square eye, ‘grows’ in height, making the canoe ‘rock’.

The Mayan glyph kelem, signifying ‘youth’ and ‘strong’, is also represented by a monkey sucking its thumb (see Montgomery 2006:134); in this instance, communicating the monkey’s ‘growth in strength’.

Animation extracted and adapted from Kerr 1992:417, file no. 3433. 

J_Monkeys 2

Classic period vase details animating a kneeling figure wearing a monkey mask to sway to the rhythm of a probable rattle and fan it holds in its hands. On rotation, the figure sways its head from side to side while simultaneously shaking the rattle and waving the fan. The figure’s monkey mask is modelled in a three-dimensional manner to stand out from the otherwise smooth sides of the vase.

Animation extracted and adapted from Kerr 2000:932, file no. 5394. 

Deer

J_Deer 1

Incised Maya vase displaying two depictions of a stag, which, on rotation of the vase, extends its phallus.

Animation extracted and adapted from Kerr 2000:964, file no. 6420.