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Arts of Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean

Works of art from Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean range from ancient cultures to cutting-edge artists of today. Among the highlights are the Glassell Collection of Pre-Columbian Gold and the museum’s growing collection of modern and contemporary art by Latin American and Latino artists.

Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, or Belize
Bowls with Birds in Cartouches
Ceramic with painted stucco

5 3/4 x 5 3/4 x 5 3/4 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gifts of The Brown Foundation, Inc. in honor of Frances Marzio's tenth anniversary with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, & the Americas

Arts of Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean

These matched bowls display six birds in interlocking cartouches. Pink roseate spoonbills occupy aqua rings, and green quetzal birds occupy pink ones. Typical of Maya creativity, each bird is depicted in a slightly different position, giving rhythm and variety to the overall design.

Roseate spoonbills are large wading birds with bright pink feathers. Quetzal birds are rare, magnificent tree-dwellers with iridescent green feathers, vibrant red chests, and long emerald tails. The Maya considered spoonbills and quetzals to be sacred. Pink associated the spoonbill with life-giving blood; green related the quetzal to agriculture. Feathers from both birds were frequently used in the ceremonial headdresses and fans of Maya rulers, who often took the name k'uk', the word for quetzal in Mayan, as part of their title.