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Object Record

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Artist Maya Culture
Title Incense Burner Fragment with Effigy Head
Date 600 - 900
Medium buff clay, red slip
Place of Origin Mexico, State of Chiapas
Culture Maya Culture
Catalog Number 1971.27
Collection Pre-Columbian Art Collection
Object Name Burner, Incense
Credit line Gift of Frederick R. Pleasants
Didactic Information Evidence suggests that in pre-Conquest worship, incense was burned to create smoke which opened a portal into a sacred dimension, which provided a link between mortals and gods. This fragment displays the likeness of the Jaguar God of the Underworld, also known as the night-sun jaguar, the personification of the sun on its nightly journey through the underworld.

The Jaguar God is also an image of warfare, hence the two trophy heads. Ritual decapitation was not only central to warfare, but also to ceremonial life and personal achievement. Such practices were associated with the belief that select body parts (such as the head or heart), contained vital powers which in turn transferred to the victor.