Art of the Ancient Americas
Maker: Unknown

Censer with a Perforated Bowl and a Carved Figurine



12.1 × 9.7 × 24.2 cm (4 3/4 × 3 13/16 × 9 1/2 in.)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Olsen
A few other examples of Oaxacan censers have carved figurines attached to the handle, or have figurines that actually serve as the handle, but they are far less common than handles that are uncarved, and they are not closely realted stylistically. The figure on this censer is especially close in style to Teotihucan III figurines and is unlike Postclassic types. It wears a female’s triangular cape with a male’s loincloth in a hermaphroditic constuming not entirely unknown in Postclassic art but apparently unique in this particular combination. A piece with certain similarites to this one is said to be from San Lorenzo, Albarrados, Oaxaca, and is now in the Museum of the American Indian in New York. Like this censer, the head in the figure from San Lorenzo rests on the bowl (at an angle sharper than that of the Yale piece), and the figure wears a shoulder garment with a beaded and fluted border and a loincloth with incised glyph, as well as wrist and ankle bands. The face and headdress are quite different from those on the examples at Yale, and the porportions of both the figure and handle are substantially elongated. The texture of the piece is smooth and the mdelling is controlled, but the pottery is thick, as in the present example. From the tip of the handle, a snake curls toward the bowl, which is decorated not with the usual perforations but with a band of neatly incised glyphlike forms.
Oaxaca, Mexico
Mexico, Oaxaca, Mixtec
Late Postclassic Period
Containers - Ceramics

Fred H. Olsen (1891–1986), and Florence Quittenton Olsen, Guilford, Conn.; gift in 1958 to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


George A. Kubler, ed., Pre-Columbian Art of Mexico and Central America (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1986), 110–11, 266, no. 241, fig. 109.

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.