Anonymous: Maya vase with Two Scenes of Pawahtun Instructing Scribes

(Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, USA)

A rollout photo of a famous Maya vase this time, known as 'the teaching vase'. The vase shows 2 scenes which may be related to eachother. in both groups you can see an old man who is in activity with 2 other men. The old man is a Maya god called Pauahtun/ Pawahtuun (or God N in the Schellhas classification) - the patron god of scribes, the interior of the earth and its water deposits and together with his 3 brothers who held up the sky at the four quarters. He can be identified by his aged appaerence and his netted headdress with a brush wedged into the ties. In the left group the Pauahtun is speaking to an an Ah k'hun (a keeper of the holy books), who wears a turban with the bundle of quill pens stuck into the top, and a second figure with a goatee. Notice the line which is coming from the mouth of Pauahtun - this is a speech thread: the god is speaking the words "receive my bad omens" to his 2 pupils.
in the right scne a Pauahtun is again teaching 2 pupils. this time the Pauahtun is speaking numbers (again a speech thread): the dots are a 1 and the lines are a 5 in the Maya script. in this case the god is saying the numbers 7, 8,9, 12, 13 and 11. What these numbers represent is unknown. These numbers could be a date: 7 pictuns, 8 baktuns, 9 katuns, 12 tuns, 13 kins and 11 uinals in the Mayan Long Count (this is the date August 9, 55,000 BCE in our calendar). What this date represents in this scene is unknown - propably something supernatural. Vase from A.D. 550–950.

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