Scholar's Commentary

This Late Classic cylindrical vessel portrays for us Itzam, the scribal and priestly god. If we roll out the scene, we realize that he is in animated conversation with a monarch. The king sits in front of a sumptuous throne, and curtains hanging behind him let us know this takes place inside a palace.

Extending from underneath the king's nose is the square-nosed serpent motif, revealing his divine essence and the moisture of his breath. It also tells us that the hieroglyphs painted between the two figures represent the king's speech.

This is their conversation, writ large in hieroglyphs. Behind the king, we see a dwarf, seated in the palace chamber. Hieroglyphs in front of the dwarf are slightly effaced, but nevertheless they would have provided this courtier's name and let us know that he was an elevated personage in his own right within the larger setting.