Tetrapod Bowl

Date: 1st–4th century

Geography: Guatemala, Mesoamerica

Culture: Maya

Medium: Ceramic

Dimensions: H. 5 1/2 in. (14 cm)

Classification: Ceramics-Containers

Credit Line: Gift of Arthur M. Bullowa, 1982

Accession Number: 1982.207.1


Wide-mouthed bowls or plates are believed to have been used as presentation or serving vessels. Those raised on four bulbous feet are identified with the Maya lowlands of Mexico and Guatemala in the earliest centuries A.D. and include a rather showy type surfaced with an arresting, bright orange-red slip, as seen here. The surface is continuous, even, and smooth in color; the shape is clean lined and well balanced. This type of vessel represents a considerable display of proficiency in the art and technique of the potter and was valued as a precious object at the time of manufacture. Other ceramics of specialized shape and size were finished with the same orange-red surface color. Perhaps suites of similarly hued ceramic containers were particularly meaningful together. This example has dark gray firing-clouds on the bottom of the feet, the only change in color from smooth orange-red on the vessel.