Title: Ballgame Vessel
Date: c.700–800
Culture: Maya
Period: Late Classic period
Medium: ceramic with slip
9 1/16 x 6 7/8 in. (23 x 17.5 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Morton D. May
Object Number: 216:1979
Place made: Guatemala
Current Location: On View, Gallery 114
The large black circle and horizontal red stripes on this cylindrical vessel represent a hard rubber ball bouncing down the steps of a Maya ball court. The ballplayers gape at the ball while various spectators gesture towards it, avidly watch, gossip, or play instruments in the stands. This sense of dynamic spectacle is unusual in representations of the ballgame. The ballgame story on this vessel unfolds in sections as the viewer examines the scene, guided by the diagonal placement of the figures. The hieroglyphs seen throughout are loosely rendered, as though the scribe emulated the speed of the game.

- 1969
Everett Rassiga, Inc., New York, NY, USA [1]

1969 - 1979
Morton D. May (1914-1983), St. Louis, MO, purchased from Everett Rassiga [2]

1979 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, given by Morton D. May [3]

[1] An invoice dated January 28, 1969, records the purchase of "One Maya Vessel" with handwritten additions "depicting ballgame" and "SLAM 73.4", referring to the loan number for the vessel [SLAM document files].

[2] See note [1].

[3] A letter dated July 5, 1979 from Morton D. May to James N. Wood, director of the Saint Louis Art Museum, includes the offer of this object as part of a larger donation [SLAM document files]. Minutes of the Acquisitions Committee of the Board of Trustees, Saint Louis Art Museum, October 10, 1979.

Exhibition History
Title: Art Walk: A Moving Experience
Date: November 14, 1991 - January 5, 1992
Venue: Saint Louis Art Museum
Publication History
Title: Reading Maya Art: A Hieroglyphic Guide to Ancient Maya Painting and Sculpture
Author: Andrea Stone
Author: Marc Zender
Title: See for Yourself: Highlights of the Collection
Periodical Title: A Gallery Guide for The Saint Louis Art Museum
Publisher: Saint Louis Art Museum
Title: Art: A Comparative Study
Author: Jed Jackson
Title: The Sport of Life and Death: The Mesoamerican Ballgame
Editor: E. Michael Whittington
Title: Programs
Periodical Title: Saint Louis Art Museum Magazine
Edition: January - February
Year Published: 1995
Title: Painting the Maya Universe : Royal Ceramics of the Classic Period
Publisher: Nasher Museum of Art
Author: Dorie Reents-Budet
Author: Justin Kerr
Title: Museum Expansion Update : On View : Collection Highlights
Periodical Title: Saint Louis Art Museum Magazine
Publisher: Saint Louis Art Museum
Title: A World History of Art
Author: Hugh Honour
Author: John Fleming
Title: A New View: Ancient American Art
Periodical Title: Saint Louis Art Museum Magazine
Publisher: Saint Louis Art Museum
Title: Ulama The Perpetuation in Mexico of the Pre-Spanish Ball Game Ullamaliztli
Year Published: 1978
Title: A New Monument Mentioning Wamaaw K'awiil
Periodical Title: The PARI Journal
Author: Raphael Tunesi
Title: The God-Kings of Mexico
Year Published: 1982
Title: A Guide to Ancient Maya Ruins
Author: C. Bruce Hunter
Title: The Ancient American Installation at the Saint Louis Art Museum
Periodical Title: Tribal Art
Author: Matthew H. Robb
Author: Amy Clark
Editor: Jonathan M. Fogel
Title: The Maya Vase Book: A Corpus of Rollout Photographs of Maya Vessels
Author: Justin Kerr
Publisher: Kerr Associates
Editor: Justin Kerr
Editor: Barbara Kerr
Title: Saint Louis Art Museum: Handbook of the Collection
Editor: Mary Ann Steiner
Publisher: Saint Louis Art Museum
Title: A World History of Art
Edition: 5
Year Published: 1999
Title: Maya: Divine Kings of the Rain Forest
Editor: Nikolai Grube
Editor: Eva Eggebrecht
Editor: Matthias Seidel
Title: Pre-Columbian Art: The Morton D. May and the Saint Louis Art Museum Collections
Author: Lee A. Parsons
Author: Ryntha M. Johnson
Publisher: Harper & Row
Title: Maya Art Classroom and Museum Activity Book
Author: Ann H. Fuerst
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