100 Years -100 Objects: Maya Tripod Blackware Vessel

April 28, 2009

The Houston Museum of Natural Science was founded in 1909 – meaning that the curators of the Houston Museum of Natural Science have been collecting and preserving natural and cultural treasures for a hundred years now. For this yearlong series, our current curators have chosen one hundred exceptional objects from the Museum’s immense storehouse of specimens and artifacts—one for each year of our history. Check back here frequently to learn more about this diverse selection of behind-the-scenes curiosities—we will post the image and description of a new object every few days.

This description is from Dirk, the museum’s curator of anthropology. He’s chosen a selection of objects that represent human cultures throughout time and around the world, that we’ll be sharing here – and at 100.hmns.org – throughout the year.

maya-tripod-vessel-1This Maya tripod vessel is symbolic for one of the high cultures of Mesoamerica. Its design reflects influence from a region about a 1000 km further West, in the Valley of Mexico.

Given the lack of wheeled transportation in Pre-Columbian days, the spread of Teotihuacan influence from Central Mexico into the Maya area is a testimony into the achievements of that period some 1500 years ago.

Explore thousands of years of Native American history in the John P. McGovern Hall of the Americas, a permanent exhibition at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

You can see more images of this fascinating artifact – as well as the others we’ve posted so far this year – in the 100 Objects section at 100.hmns.org

Authored By Dirk Van Tuerenhout

As curator of anthropology, Dirk is responsible for the museum’s artifact collection and is involved in its temporary and permanent anthropology exhibits. Dirk is an expert in human cultures; he curates the Museum’s Hall of the Americas and specializes in native American cultures like the Aztec and Maya.

3 responses to “100 Years -100 Objects: Maya Tripod Blackware Vessel”

  1. Denise Fertig says:

    I have aquired a tripod vessel with rainbird designs. The signatures on the bottom are as follows or as close as I can decipher. I would like more info. JENE ZUELA COOP-AYA MAMES QUIBAR LARA Thank you

  2. Erin F says:

    Hi Denise,

    If you have a photo, please send it to blogadmin@hmns.org and I can have our curator of anthropology take a look. In the meantime, here are his thoughts on the information you sent:

    “I am inclined to think that this is a South American pot rather than a Maya one.

    I suspect that Jene Zuela should be read as “Venezuela.”

    Coop could be short for cooperative — or a workshop that makes pottery, among other things.

    Quibar Lara could be a reference to the city of Quibor in the province of Lara, Venezuela. (http://www.mbendi.com/a_sndmsg/place_view.asp?pid=2195670)

    Based on all of these guesses, we would be looking at a modern made pot showing “rainbirds” whatever that may be, from Venezuela. “

  3. Nancy Smothers says:

    I have a piece of pottery that appears to be the same material that your Maya tripod blackware Vessel is made from. My piece looks to be like it is a dog or cat of some kind bearing it’s teeth and lying down, with a spout coming out of the top of it’s back.

    How can I identify if it is a piece of Maya pottery or not?
    There are no inscriptions on the bottom of any kind.

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