Incised Bowl with Reclining K'awil (God K)



Incised Bowl with Reclining K'awil (God K)


Ceramic, bowl


800 - 1000 AD


Terminal Classic
Mesoamerica, Guatemala, Lower Usumacinta


3 1/4 x 8 11/16 x 8 5/8 in. (8.3 x 22.1 x 21.9 cm)

Object Number



This vessel shows the use of incision to create forms by cutting through the white-slipped surface into the darker clay of the vessel itself. The calligraphic lines used to portray the figures reveal a practiced hand as well as the Maya preference for expressive, curving contours. However, in this case the artist also removed large areas of the surface to create a dark, recessed background for the reclining figures, as if the vessel were monumental stone sculpture. The figures represent an important deity known as K'awil (pronounced Kah-weel) in two forms: on one side of the bowl is his god form with one foot turning into a snake, while his human self is on the other side. The Maya, like the rest of the ancient American peoples, believed that there were paired natural and supernatural states of being (co-essences) that transformed into each other, such as a human shaman turning into a jaguar spirit and back again.

Credit Line

Gift of Cora W. and Laurence C. Witten II


MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, September 2002 - June 2012|
MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, February 9, 2013 - Present
Rebecca Stone-Miller, Seeing With New Eyes: Highlights of the Michael C. Carlos Museum Collection of Art of the Ancient Americas (Atlanta: Michael C. Carlos Museum, 2002), 18, figure 19.


© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Michael McKelvey.
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On View



“Incised Bowl with Reclining K'awil (God K),” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed December 16, 2018,

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