J_Scribes/Artists 7

Classic Maya red-and-black-on-orange polychrome vase animating an artist carving a mask.

As the vase is turned, the artist performs a downward carving action with his right hand onto the immobile mask, his facial expressions tightening in concentration in the process. 

His carving action is accompanied by the expansion of the red centres of large concentric circles, three stacked atop each other, rising in a band behind the seated figure; the concentric circles are reminiscent of the Mayan pet glyph meaning ‘turning’ and, together with their triadic repetition, form a mnemonic to the ‘spinning’ force of time driving his movement.

Motion is further highlighted by triadic jaguar-pelt-spot clusters covering the artist’s backrest cushion and the band of pseudoglyphs running around the rim above his head and forming the rhythmic expression ‘stop-halt-stop-halt…’: six groups of three glyphs each (alternating inverted and upright ahaw heads) and one isolated inverted ahaw head, indicate a clear break in the motion position above the moment when the carving is enforced upon the mask. 

Animation extracted and adapted from Kerr 1997:779, file no. 5348. 

J_Itzamnaaj 2

Classic period polychrome vase animating, on rotation, a seated Itzamnaaj to turn from facing a large grotesque head with long snout, likely K’awiil, towards the viewer, while gesticulating excitedly at the scrolls issuing from K’awiil’s top-knot worn on his head.

In his first depiction, Itzamnaaj’s left hand holds his necklace pendant, possibly a profile face, while raising his open right palm towards K’awiil’s head scrolls. On rotation, the long-snouted K’awiil head opens its maw wider to reveal fangs and vertically grows its top-knot scrolls, as if pulled up by Itzamnaaj’s hand gesture, to touch the glyph band running around the vase rim above, depicted on the original vase.

The rim text on the original vessel repeats the sign couplet waj (‘bread’; T504) and ha’ (‘water’; T501), separated by ‘empty’ glyphs, read by Eric Boot (2005:3) to refer to a feast; Boot thus suggests that this vessel was specifically made for feasting. 

A smooth and progressive movement of the first scene to the second is suggested by Itzamnaaj’s hands stretching to touch both of K’awiil’s head scrolls on the original vase. 

Animation extracted and adapted from Kerr 1992:382, file no. 3091.