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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Relief panels (door reveals)

Photo: Mark Woods

Relief panels (door reveals)

ca. AD 550-950

A dwarf stands between two male warrior lords facing each other in these panels. These panels were cut into two sections after their archaeological discovery. Originally, they would have been one singular sculpture placed inside the top of a doorway of a palace or temple. When people passed through the doorway, the figures would have been activated through song, dance and copal incense. The imagery of the sculpture refers to dynastic transitions, the Maya creation story, and the resurrection of the Maize god, Hun Hunaphu. The figure's eyes, noses and mouths were damaged as part of a ritual process that put them to sleep.
Both panels together: 45 x 45 in. (114.3 x 114.3 cm)
Left panel: 45 x 22 x 3 in. (114.3 x 55.9 x 7.6 cm)
Right panel: 45 x 23 x 3 in. (114.3 x 58.4 x 7.6 cm)
Gift in honor of Assen Nicolov
Provenance: [David Stuart Gallery, Los Angeles, California, by 1961]; private collection, Los Angeles, California, by 1980; [Sotheby’s, New York, Pre-Columbian Art, Nov. 25, 1996, sale no. 6921, lot no. 187, reproduced]; purchased by private sale through Sotheby’s to Assen and Christine Nicolov, Seattle, Washington, 1997; to Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, 2018
Photo: Mark Woods
Now on view at the Seattle Art Museum


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Cosmic Beings in Mesoamerican and Andean Art, Nov. 10, 2018 - ongoing.
Published ReferencesKarl Herbert Mayer, Maya Monuments: Sculptures of Unknown Provenance in the United States, Ramona, 1980, pp. 37-38; reproduced in Mayer, Maya Monuments, Supplement I, Berlin, 1987, pl. 34.

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