Vessel with Scribes holding Shell Paint Palettes Artist: Unknown

A.D. 600–900

Art of the Ancient Americas

On view, 1st floor, Art of the Ancient Americas

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.


Ceramic with pigment


5 1/4 in. (13.3 cm)

Credit Line

Stephen Carlton Clark, B.A. 1903, Fund

Accession Number



Late Classic Period


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 records is ongoing.



Fred H. Olsen (1891–1986), and Florence Quittenton Olsen, Guilford, Conn.; gift in 1973 to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.
  • Elise K. Kenney, ed., Handbook of the Collections: Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 319, ill
  • 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
  • "Acquisitions, 1973," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin 35, no. 1 (Summer 1974), 76
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

human figures (visual works), utilitarian objects, vessels

Technical metadata and APIs


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