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Ancient Americas

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Tripod Plate with God N (Pauahtun)

700-800 CE
4 1/4 x 15 3/4 x 15 3/4 in. (10.8 x 40 x 40 cm)

Maya artist

Maya; made in Campeche, Mexico

Object Type: Ceramics
Medium and Support: Clay, pigments
Credit Line: Marion Stratton Gould Fund
Accession Number: 1971.78
Location: Currently on view
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Many Maya ceramics depict deities connected with death and the Underworld. This is no surprise as such ceramics were destined as offerings to accompany the ancient Maya elite to their tombs.

The theme of this tripod plate is God N or Pauahtun, one of the principal gods of the Underworld. God N is represented as an old man with toothless gums and a large, Roman nose. A common attribute is his enormous snail shell from which he crawls. A long necklace, likely made of valuable green stone hangs from his neck. The power of this Underworld lord is revealed by the “rulership” glyph (Maya writing) attached to the top of the shell. Stylized smoke is emitted by both this glyph and the shell’s spire. Not much is known about the language of Maya hand gestures, but the position of God N’s hands suggest that he is receiving homage in his palace.

A representation of God N can also be found on the large stone stela in the gallery's collection from Oxkintok, Mexico (accession number 67.30).
[Gallery label text, 2009]

Intermercado Limitado, San Jose and Dallas (dealers?); purchased from them by the Gallery in 1971

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