General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 22 Sep 2017/11 Vulture
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Article suitable for Top Juniors and above

Maya rabbit scribe

‘Rabbiting on...’

As usual, there’s more to a fun-loving animal character like this than meets the eye: read on... Incidentally, you may like to draw your own version of this scribe (hints: take out the background, add colour, and, to make him look cuter, try making the eye a bit bigger, and move it forward). (Written/compiled by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore)

The Princeton Vase
The Princeton Vase (Click on image to enlarge)

The original rabbit-scribe was painted at the foot of a famous Maya ceramic vase - known as The Princeton Vase - described by Professor Michael Coe (on our Panel of Experts) as follows: ‘This may well be the finest examples of Maya pictorial ceramics yet known; it ranks as one of the greatest masterpieces of aboriginal American art.’ It comes from the Northern Peten region of Guatemala from the Late Classic Period (600-900 CE), and is in the collection of the Princeton Art Museum (USA).

Detail from the Princeton Vase
Detail from the Princeton Vase (Click on image to enlarge)

The main scene on the vase shows the Maya deity known as ‘God L’ sitting on an expensive (jaguar-skin covered) throne, tying a bracelet of jade beads around the wrist of a young woman, as a gift (God L was known to be a bit of a ‘womaniser’!) At the foot of his throne, the rabbit scribe is recording the scene in an open codex (also made of jaguar skin). A scribe held a very important - almost divine - position in Maya society, and was usually shown (in pottery and codices) as a royal monkey.

So why a rabbit? Well, remember the rabbit in the moon (follow link below)? In Maya mythology the Moon Goddess gave birth to the rabbit, and there may be a connection between this rabbit and the young woman, who perhaps is an image of the Moon Goddess.

Information adapted from The Way of God L: The Princeton Vase Revisited by Barbara and Justin Kerr - follow link below

• Main picture, attributed to Michael Coe, scanned from Códices del México Antiguo by Carmen Aguilera (SEP/INAH, 1979)
• Colour photos courtesy of Justin Kerr

The Creation of the Moon

Explore this and other Maya vases online
Search the Mayavase database
Justin Kerr’s photo archive at Mayavase
See a ‘roll-out’ photo of the vase painting
Read ‘The Way of God L: The Princeton Vase Revisited’
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