Censer Support

Date: mid-7th–9th century

Geography: Mexico, Mesoamerica

Culture: Maya

Medium: Ceramic

Dimensions: H. 21 1/4 x W. 11 3/8 x D. 13 3/4 in. (54 x 28.9 x 34.9 cm)

Classification: Ceramics-Sculpture

Credit Line: The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Wielgus, 1963

Accession Number: 1978.412.99


This hand-modeled flanged ceramic cylinder would have supported a bowl for the burning of incense for ritual purposes. A high-relief standing figure with a looped motif between his eyes, which is thought to relate to the Maya god of the sun, is depicted on the front. The figure is flanked by two smaller staff-bearing, animal-masked figures shown in profile. All three figures are positioned atop the carapace of a turtle out of the front of which emerges a human head, probably a representation of a Maya underworld deity. Turtle shells were regarded as metaphors for the earth, their openings viewed as analogous to those of caves. The combination of sun and underworld references suggests a cosmogram of the supernatural realm.