In 2009, a resident of Uaxactún, Guatemala, delivered a ceramic vessel to a private collector in the area. Looted and severely fragmented, the Maya antiquity was clumsily glued back together. The object was a rare find. It had been produced for a bloodletting ritual of a young man—there are few examples of Maya vessels created for this specific purpose. It also bears the signature of White Macaw, the scribe who made it, along with his portrait as a participant in the ritual scene. Wearing a white bird as a headdress, White Macaw immortalized himself in this elaborately decorated polychrome piece. The Sak Mo’ vessel, as it was called, was eventually professionally restored and displayed at several international exhibitions. While this object can be considered a salvaged masterpiece, like other looted antiquities it had been torn out of its archaeological context. Its provenience...

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