VESSEL WITH MYTHOLOGICAL SCENE. Attributed to the Metropolitan Painter (active 7th-8th century CE). Click image to enlarge.
A masterful artist realistically captures Chahk the Rain God in a vigorous dance, thunder axe in one hand, a stone raised in the other. Hair tumbling with loose strands, his scant garment trails behind a hefty thigh. His skin folds mid-torso lend weight and physical veracity to the frozen action. Though human in form, visual clues show he is actually a superhuman associated with things aquatic: shiny fish scales shimmer behind his legs, a water plant grows from his forehead. Chahk’s expression is intense and focused, an action figure powerfully stomping out survival choreography. This highly detailed vessel image is delicately painted in the “codex” style. So named for its resemblance to Maya painted books, most of which were destroyed by the Spanish Conquest of the Maya region in the late 1500s. In an effort to eradicate the Mayan religion and history, Catholic zealots burned most of the documents; only four paper codices survive. The illustrations on ceramic cups and pottery give us an idea of their lively storytelling powers.