The Maya imbued flint with sacred power because they believed it was created when the rain gods hurled bolts of lightning to earth. This Ceremonial Flint shows three figures traveling to the watery underworld in a canoe that features carved heads on the prow and stern. In the center of the canoe is K'awiil, the god of lineage, dynasty, and kingship. Flanking him are the Hero Twins of the great Maya epic the Popol Vuh. Along the bottom of the canoe, elaborate scallops suggest the waters of the underworld. From 100 to 1000 AD, the ancient Maya created one of the most advanced civilizations in Mesoamerica. Occupying present-day Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, and southeastern Mexico, the Maya were organized into city-states, often at war with each other. They built large and impressive palaces and temples. Depicting rulers and gods, Maya art displays a refined and graceful art style. The Maya created the only true writing system known in the Americas. Using symbols called hieroglyphs, they recorded important events on carved stone monuments.


Cataloguing data may change with further research.

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Artist
Maya
Title
Ceremonial Flint with K'awiil and Two Lords in a Monster-headed Canoe
Date
600–900 AD
Medium
Chert
Dimensions
Overall: 5 1/2 × 12 5/8 × 5/8 in. (14 × 32.1 × 1.6 cm)
Credit Line

Museum purchase funded by the Alice Pratt Brown Museum Fund

Current Location
The Caroline Wiess Law Building
205M WIESS GALLERY
Accession Number
91.332
Classification
Stone Carving, Shell & Ivory
Provenance

Jorge Castillo, Guatemala, before 1979; Mr. and Mrs. Peter G. Wray Collection, Phoenix, 1979–ca. 1984; The Manoogian Collection, ca. 1984–1990; [Sotheby's, New York, November 19, 1990, lot 119]; [Emile Deletaille, Brussels, 1990–1991]; purchased by MFAH, 1991.