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The Composite or "Assemble-it-Yourself" Censer: A New Lowland Maya Variety of the Three-Pronged Incense Burner

Stephan F. Borhegyi
American Antiquity
Vol. 25, No. 1 (Jul., 1959), pp. 51-58
DOI: 10.2307/276678
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/276678
Page Count: 8
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The Composite or "Assemble-it-Yourself" Censer: A New Lowland Maya Variety of the Three-Pronged Incense Burner
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Abstract

A slit-sided, tubular "incense burner" with three holes in the top, three solid, curved and tapering cylinders called "chili-mashers," and a flat, striated dish called a "griddle" or "comal" from sealed Cache B3 at San Jose, British Honduras are presented as separate units of a composite Lowland Maya variety of the three-pronged incense burner known from Highland Maya sites. Only the "comal" shows signs of burning. The cylinders are removable prongs which fit the holes in the top of the tubular "censer," and the "comal" rests on the prongs as the cover on which the incense was burned. Thus, many so-called censers are probably stands or supports rather than receptacles for burning incense. A classification is offered for the several forms of the composite three-pronged censer which is distributed throughout the Maya Lowlands primarily during the Classic period. Since the San Jose "griddles" shown here to be censer covers are the only "comales" claimed for the Maya Lowlands, this identification establishes the pre-16th century absence of the comal and the tortilla in the lowland area. Doubt is also expressed that the comal forms of Highland Guatemala were used for making tortillas.

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