Cut up a baseball-size ball of clay for each student, plus extra for demonstration and for students who need more. It is helpful to place these balls on a baking sheet and cover with a damp towel until ready for use (like biscuits).
Cut a placemat of butcher paper for each student (if not using Styrofoam plates).
Focus Activity Procedure
1. Assess student’s ability to create a functional cup through (1) observation and (2) discussion with student. Have students identify a cup’s parts and characteristics and compare those elements with the works they make.
2. In closing discussion, ask students to identify similarities and differences between their cups and the Cylinder Vase and describe the properties of clay.
Air-dry clay (terra cotta color)
Butcher paper or Styrofoam plate
Different ceramic mugs or cups, handmade if possible
Extension Activities for Teachers
Extension Activities for Families
Suggested Books for Classroom Library
Gibbons, Gail. The Pottery Place. Harcourt Childrens Books, 1987. [ISBN-13: 978-0152632656]
Hill, Laban Carrick. Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. [ISBN-13-978-0316107310]
Luxbacher, Irene. 1 2 3 I Can Sculpt! Kids Can Press, 2007. [ISBN 973-1-55453-038-0]
Beautifully painted cylinder vases were used by the Maya ruling elite for drinking chocolate beverages. This vase is painted with an elaborately rendered hieroglyphic date in the Maya calendar, which is equivalent to December 5, 711. Part of the date glyph is represented by the profile head of the Young Corn God inside a daysign cartouche. The cartouche is flanked by two square signs that refer to the partition between natural and supernatural realms. Atop the glyph is the hunal, the headdress of kingship, with its white cloth tie-ends draped on either side of the cartouche. These are apt symbols for a chocolate beverage drinking vessel used during important sociopolitical meetings among the Maya ruling elite.
Although painting was one of the principal forms of artistic expression among the Maya, few of their frescoes and almost none of their illustrated books survive. Thus, vase painting is the best source of information about this virtually lost art. The best painted ceramics were prestige items used by the wealthy classes; they survive because they have been preserved in tombs. Made by the coil method (the Maya did not use the wheel), some of the finest pots include inscriptions suggesting that the painters who made them were members of the royal family, possibly sons who were not in the line of succession to the throne. As individuals schooled in hieroglyphic writing, all master pottery painters belonged to the elite class of Maya society.