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Vessel Depicting a Sacrificial Ceremony for a Royal Accession

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

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  • A work made of ceramic and pigment.


A.D. 650/800


Late Classic Maya
Mexico or Guatemala

About this artwork

This vessel, used to consume a chocolate drink, depicts a key event in a royal Maya accession ceremony, which shows the relationship between human sacrifice and the assumption of power. The expectant king is flanked by servants, musicians, and masked nobles, while a terrified captive—bound to a scaffold—awaits his death. It is probable that the victim was a warrior from a rival community defeated by the prospective king during a coronation war. Such sacrifices were required as proof of a new ruler’s military abilities, provided an offering to his patron gods, and served as a sign of the triumphant reign to follow.

On View

Arts of the Americas, Gallery 136




Vessel Depicting a Sacrificial Ceremony for a Royal Accession




650 CE–800 CE


Ceramic and pigment


H. 19.7 cm (7 3/4 in.)

Credit Line

Ada Turnbull Hertle Fund

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


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