Collection Online
Lord of the jaguar pelt throne, vase

Lord of the jaguar pelt throne, vase
700 CE-800 CE

earthenware, pigments
20.8 × 16.0 cm diameter
Place/s of Execution
Peten, Guatemala
Accession Number
Pre-Columbian Art
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented through the NGV Foundation by John Warner, Founder Benefactor, 2002
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of The Vizard Foundation
Gallery location
The Ancient World
Level 2, NGV International
This rare black background vase was painted using pigments suspended in clay slip. The scene revealed is one of the Maya court. The ruler sits on a jaguar pelt atop a wide throne and sees his own image in a mirror held by a dwarf. He is surrounded by a coterie of courtiers, among them supplicant lords, servants bearing gifts and foodstuffs, parasol bearers and flysweeps. Despite the complexity of the human representations depicted here, there is no doubt about this ruler’s position at the apex of the chain of humanity.

Many styles of Maya vase painting thrived simultaneously in the tropical rainforest of northern Guatemala and adjacent Chiapas, Campeche, Quintana Roo, and Belize during the Classic period.  All were painted using pigments suspended in clay slip; no glaze was used in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. Maya ceramicists also incised vessels and created figures for burial on Jaina Island, which was considered sacred and possibly symbolic of the entrance to the Underworld, Xibalba.