The New Orleans Saints and Mayan Vessels

They may not have Peyton Manning on their side, but the New Orleans Saints would certainly seem to have Mayan cultural imagery, and fleur-de-lis power, working for them.

While doing my homework for Super Bowl Sunday with The New York Times sports section this morning, I couldn’t help noticing an article, by Joe Lapointe, on the history of Fleur power. Decorated with a fleur-de-lis pattern, an image of a Mayan vessel caught my attention.

It turns out this was a common graphic motif for this culture. The image at left, dated from AD 600-900, is from the Pre-Columbian Collection of The Library of Congress. On their site they say this about the history of the vessel,

“This tall, narrow cylindrical vessel is a striking example of a class of vessels that feature a stylized, repetitive motif of three-lobed white and black flowers reminiscent of the lilies (fleurs-de-lis) used in later European art and heraldry. Despite their frequent appearance on vessels from this region, their significance remains unclear.”

The cup on the right, which the decorative motifs suggest was used to serve a chocolate beverage, is at the Art Institute of Chicago and is from Guatemala or Beliz and dated about AD 780.

Go Saints!


About Richard Shear

designer, husband, teacher, blogger, father, athlete, author, historian Richard has over 25 years of brand identity and package design experience, with a wide range of clients such as Ahold, Coca-Cola, Hasbro, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Pernod Ricard and Procter & Gamble. He began his career working with the legendary advertising art director, and AIGA Medalist, George Lois and the British design manager Clive Chajet. In his next design management position at Lippincott & Margulies, he worked with Walter Margulies learning the complex skills of global corporate identity. He then became Creative Director and Partner at Peterson & Blyth, one of the premier brand identity and package design firms of the time. He is a founding faculty member of the Masters in Branding Program at New York’s School of Visual Arts. He publishes the blog The Package Unseen, and has been a guest lecturer at colleges including FIT, Trinity College and Tyler School of Art. He is a graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Richard is a Board member of the AIGA MetroNorth Chapter, past President of AIGA‘s Brand Design Association, President of the Package Design Council and a member of its Board of Directors. He is a member of USA Cycling and US Rowing, a nationally ranked masters bicycle racer, and a member of The Saugatuck Rowing Club, the 2010 Masters Club National Champion.
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