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Ballgame Vessel

Artist Culture
Late Classic period, 600–909
Ceramic with slip
Made in
Guatemala or Mexico, North and Central America
Ceramics, containers
Current Location
On View, Gallery 114
9 1/16 x 6 7/8 in. (23 x 17.5 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of Morton D. May
Public Domain
Object Number
The large black circle and horizontal red stripes on this cylindrical vessel represent a hard rubber ball bouncing down the steps of a Maya ball court. The ballplayers gape at the ball while various spectators gesture towards it, avidly watch, gossip, or play instruments in the stands. This sense of dynamic spectacle is unusual in representations of the ballgame. The ballgame story on this vessel unfolds in sections as the viewer examines the scene, guided by the diagonal placement of the figures. The hieroglyphs seen throughout are loosely rendered, as though the scribe emulated the speed of the game.
- 1969
Everett Rassiga, Inc., New York, NY, USA [1]

1969 - 1979
Morton D. May (1914-1983), St. Louis, MO, purchased from Everett Rassiga [2]

1979 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, given by Morton D. May [3]

[1] An invoice dated January 28, 1969, records the purchase of "One Maya Vessel" with handwritten additions "depicting ballgame" and "SLAM 73.4", referring to the loan number for the vessel [SLAM document files].

[2] See note [1].

[3] A letter dated July 5, 1979 from Morton D. May to James N. Wood, director of the Saint Louis Art Museum, includes the offer of this object as part of a larger donation [SLAM document files]. Minutes of the Acquisitions Committee of the Board of Trustees, Saint Louis Art Museum, October 10, 1979.
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