Head on a Platter: A Reexamination of a Cache Vessel Lid

Author(s): Kaylee Spencer; Maline Werness-Rude

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "SAA 2019: General Sessions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Narratives featuring the Maize God are well represented on Classic Maya ceramics. Appearing with numerous other characters and plants in underworld settings, this deity is abundantly documented in scholarly literature. Despite his ubiquity in ancient imagery, the Maize God remains a slippery creature, with an identity that overlaps with other supernaturals. What is more, his image was used to further diverse, and often differing, ancient agendas. One famous example, a carved ceramic cache vessel lid, shows the Maize God’s head resting atop a platter. The artist surrounded the disembodied head with images of bloodletting, water, and the Water Lily Monster. While these icons are readily identifiable, closer examination of specific features reveal nuanced narratives that layer axiality and cosmology onto the standard Maize God theme. Scale and compositional relationships suggest an interplay between text and image, and further blending can be observed in the introduction of solar iconography. Such additions take this beyond a ‘simple’ presentation of agrico-bloodletting as world-sustaining; we offer a detail-oriented reinterpretation of the lid in its entirety, exploring the fluidity between conceptual categories and how such blurring contributes to the rich messages contained within the scene.

Cite this Record

Head on a Platter: A Reexamination of a Cache Vessel Lid. Kaylee Spencer, Maline Werness-Rude. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450072)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.197; min lat: 16.004 ; max long: -86.682; max lat: 21.984 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 25123