This pipe, carved in serpentine may have been smoked by a Mayan King or Priest for the conduct of religious ceremonies. Its shape represents a Wayob.
When the king made a journey to the Otherworld he was accompanied by his Wayob, or companion spirit. The Wayob of Classic Maya imagery appeared in many guises including human like forms. To the Classic Maya clouds were a metaphor for the heavens. Whether rain-laden, celestial, or in the form of sweet incense smoke, they harbored ch’ulel, the soul stuff of the living universe. The powers conjured up in the clouds are spirits called Way or Nawal and the serpent-footed god, K’awil, all beings that the king called upon in the exercise of his power.
The Maya thought that powerful humans had special soul-bonds with gods, and most of the major kingdoms depict a particular creature who was the Way of their ruling lord. The glyph that reads Way or “companion spirit” derives from the words “to sleep” and ”to dream”
Edited from Mayan Cosmos
Background: Temple of the Foliated Cross, Palenque