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Pre-Columbian Honduran Marble Bowl

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Pre-Columbian Honduran Marble Bowl

- Item No.

Ulúa artistry is highly valued for its intricate carving and almost translucent quality

Key Features

  • Ulúa artisans used stone tools to create magnificent marble bowls such as this one
  • Their work is highly valued for its intricate carving and almost translucent quality
  • The scrollwork on this vessel almost certainly depicts the rain deity of the region, Chac
  • Bowls such as this one were used by the priests and nobility and were traded among the Maya elite
  • Today these vessels are highly valued and are among the most sought-after items at auction
  • Circa, 800-1000 AD
  • height: 3 1/4 diameter: 4

Item Details

  • Height:
    3 1/4" Inches
  • Diameter:
    4" Inches
  • Period:
    Pre-18th Century
  • Origin:
    America
 The Ulúa people of Honduras live in the Ulúa river valley in the Northwestern region of the country.  Exquisite marble statuary and vessels were the main artistic product of this region with no metal works excavated from these areas.  Ulúa artisans used stone tools to create magnificent marble bowls such as this one, and their work is highly valued for its intricate carving and almost translucent quality. Marble bowls, such as this one, are a fascinating feat in skill and artistry, delicately carved with intricate scrollwork and elaborate cosmological designs.  These works remind of the sculptural pediments of ancient Greece or the delicate jades of Imperial China. These extraordinary vessels are luminous when placed before a light source and cast an ephemeral glow.

Bowls such as this one were used by the priests and nobility and were traded among the Maya elite in other cities.  The scrollwork on this vessel almost certainly depicts the rain deity of the region, Chac.  Other marble vessels show representations of the wind and sun deities.   Maya economy was based on agriculture and so priests and rulers would regularly petition the mercy of deities that held influence over the natural elements.

The people of the Ulúa valley were the only people in the New World to engage in the difficult and delicate marble-working industry.  A rare and unique vessel such as this would have been considered an elite good, prized locally and traded as an exotic import.

Altogether only a few dozen of these marble vessels are known, so few in fact that it has been suggested that all were possibly manufactured by a single artist and his family within a couple of generations. Today these vessels are highly valued and are among the most sought-after items at auction.  Only a handful exist outside of museums and very few become available for acquisition.

Circa 800-1000 AD

3 1/4" high x 4" diameter

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Price: $44,500
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