Early Cacao Depiction

 Cylinder vessel depicting the creation of cacao by a Mayan god.

The Los Angeles County Museum  of Art has a collection of ancient Mayan vessels that portrays a depiction and history of cacao that goes back hundreds of years and shows us to this day the importance that this particular crop had within Mesoamerican native civilizations.

This particular item has one of the earliest images of the actual cacao tree, considered ‘food for the Gods’ by the Mayan civilization! According to the LACMA, the lightning god K’awiil is shown here to have created the first cacao tree before gifting it to the people. This is just one of the many mythological stories attached to cacao that were often portrayed in these vessels.

Panoramic take on the cylinder vessel depicting the creation of cacao by Mayan god.

Beside the images themselves, they would also have written words that specified the vessels to be for  specific for drinking cacao, many of which were found in tombs of people who were either royals or higher in status. As a matter of fact, the associate curator wrote in this article that “these vessels often have beautifully painted images that portray scenes from Maya mythology and royal life”(O’Neill, 2016). 

If you would like to learn more about this topic, please visit the LACMA webpage and browse through the wonderful collection of Mayan artifacts, depicting cacao in various ways!