Skip to Content
Today Open today 10–11 members | 11–5 public

Vessel Depicting a Sacrificial Ceremony for a Royal Accession

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

Image actions

  • A work made of ceramic and pigment.


750–800, probably 753


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, Gallery 136


Arts of the Americas




Vessel Depicting a Sacrificial Ceremony for a Royal Accession


Mexico (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Depicted 753 CE


Ceramic and pigment


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

Credit Line

Ada Turnbull Hertle 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.

Learn more.

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.


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions