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Water-Lily Vessel

A work made of ceramic and pigment.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of ceramic and pigment.


750–800 CE


Ah Maxam
Maya, active mid-/late 8th century
Vicinity of Naranjo, Petén region, Guatemala

About this artwork

The simple, elegant design of this vessel reflects the refined abilities of the artist, who painted images of water lilies and a hieroglyphic text with a perfectly controlled brush. The inscription below was the first to be deciphered on a Classic Maya vessel. It states the name of the artist, Ah Maxam (aj maxam), and declares that he is a member of the royal lineage of the kingdom of Naranjo. His mother and father are also named on this vessel, as well as on other dynastic monuments from the region. For the Maya, water lilies were symbolic of the watery surface of the Underworld and the earth’s regenerative powers.


On View, Gallery 136


Arts of the Americas


Ah Maxam




Water-Lily Vessel, "Vase of the Water Lilies"


Petén department (Object made in), Naranjo (Object Probably made in), Guatemala (Object made in)


700 CE-850 CE


Ceramic and pigment


24 × 15 cm (9 1/2 × 6 in.)

Credit Line

Ethel T. Scarborough Fund

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

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