Smoke and Mirrors: Thinking with a Ceramic Censer Lid from Teotihuacan

An intricate ceramic object shaped roughly like a theater stage. A form resembling a human face occupies what would be the stage itself. Twelve identical plaques frame this central element. Above, a crowning element features a face.

Censer Lid with a Figure in a Bird Costume, Guatemala, probably Escuintla, A.D. 400–650. Ceramic with pigment and mica. Yale University Art Gallery, Gift of Peter David Joralemon

“Theater-type” censer lids are among the most emblematic objects of the Mesoamerican city of Teotihuacan, which reached its height between 350 and 650 A.D. Join Sophia Inman Kitlinski, Ph.D. candidate, History of Art, for a close look at one such object in the Yale University Art Gallery’s collection—crafted hundreds of miles farther south, in what is today Guatemala, but in full Teotihuacan style. Learn what insights this collection item, Censer Lid with a Figure in a Bird Costume (A.D. 400–650), can offer us into the multisensory world of ancient Mesoamerican ritual. Generously sponsored by the Martin A. Ryerson Lectureship Fund.

No registration required; gather by the Public Programs sign in the Gallery lobby.

Space is limited.