Art of the Ancient Americas
Artist: Unknown

Vessel with Scribes holding Shell Paint Palettes

A.D. 600–900

Ceramic with pigment

13.3 cm (5 1/4 in.)
Stephen Carlton Clark, B.A. 1903, Fund
Using clay slip and natural pigments, Maya artists painted thousands of vases. Subjects ranged from daily life to detailed epic and supernatural narratives. Some were inscribed with text, drawn by the artist’s hand. Palettes ranged from monochromatic—known as “codex style” from the calligraphic quality of the line—to vibrant hues of orange, yellow, blue, and green. Many artists and scribes were elite members of Maya society. Here two scribes are recognizable by the paint pots they hold and the dotted strips of paper emanating from under their arms.
Campeche, Mexico
On view
Mexico, Campeche, Maya
Late Classic Period
Containers - Ceramics

Fred H. Olsen (1891–1986), and Florence Quittenton Olsen, Guilford, Conn.; gift in 1973 to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


“Acquisitions, 1973,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin 35, no. 1 (Summer 1974): 76.

George A. Kubler, ed., Pre-Columbian Art of Mexico and Central America (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1986), 146–47, 308, no. 316, fig. 163.

Handbook of the Collections, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 319, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.