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Vase: Gallery Label - Current


Minneapolis Institute of Arts



Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Playful and mischevious black howler monkeys encircle this vase, with juveniles taunting their mothers who hold cacao (chocolate) pods. Rodents, birds, and monkeys in the Maya area of Mesoamerica play a critical role in the propagation of cacao, breaking open the pods to suck out the sweet gooey pulp and then casting away the bitter seeds. The circle with three dots motif in the background may represent cacao seeds. For human consumption, cacao seeds are fermented, dried, roasted, and ground, much like coffee beans, into unsweetened chocolate. The ancient Maya combined chocolate, water, and chiles in tall, cylindrical vases like this one, then pouring the contents into smaller vessels like the chocolate pot also in this case to create a frothy beverage.
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Source: Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Rights: Copyright Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Added to Site: July 28, 2011