Among the Maya, members of the nobility offered elaborately painted vessels to each other as gifts to maintain political and social connections among leading families. They often commissioned these items from scribes, literate aristocrats who painted images and wrote hieroglyphic texts on ceramics and in codices (singular: codex; books on bark paper). Painted ceramics also functioned as serving dishes for important feasts and for making offerings. Maya ceramic painting reached its peak between 600 and 900, when artists produced innovative designs combining hieroglyphs with geometric elements, and images of humans and gods. The central figure here is the Maize God, the most important Maya god. He is recognizable by his unique attributes including his head and hairdo, elongated to imitate the shape of an ear of corn and cornsilk, and the red body paint covering all but his face.