Painted Mayan pottery such as this example was used for feasting, ritual purposes, and as prestigious gifts given to emphasize the power of the giver and bind the recipient to them through a form of purchased loyalty. Maya kings and queens might give them to local governors. The artists who created them were also often minor royalty or nobility, especially the ones who could paint glyphs, as literacy was reserved for the Mayan elite. This large orangeware tripod plate is decorated with a central dancer figure depicted in profile, wearing an elaborate headdress and backsplash, as well as protective gear associated with the ballgame around his waist. A register of glyphs rings the interior of the plate between two red bands.
The bottom two glyphic designs are very close to the Initial Sign and the God N variant, as found on a ceramic vessel cataloged as Kerr No. 0530. If correctly identified, this would be a Tikal Dancer plate with a (partial) Primary Standard Sequence. Compare with a similar example on mayavase.com no 1271: The Maize God dances. The general appearance of this Dancer plate can best be compared with the example found in a tomb in structure A-1 at Uaxactun.
Dimensions: Diameter: 12 inches (30.5 cm), Height: 2 1/4 inches (5.6 cm)
Condition: The tripod feet are now mostly missing, and some losses to the surface decoration that does not detract, but otherwise the plate intact and in very good condition overall. A most impressive piece.
Provenance: Ex. Romy Rey Collection, London, acquired in the 1970’s from Chiswick Auctions, London. Sticker with collection number P272 attached to the back.
Romy Rey (1938 - 2020) was London-based artist for over twenty years and an avid collector of Pre-Columbian, African, and Oceanic art, which often inspired her in her own work.