The present paper investigates the possibility that the potbelly sculptures of southeastern Mesoamerica may have served as false (or effigy) mortuary bundles in public rituals tying ancestor veneration to emerging forms of rulership among the Preclassic Maya. Correspondences between potbelly sculptures and the artistic and archaeological evidence for the use of mortuary bundles among the Classic period Maya suggest that the imagery of ancestors represented through effigy bundles may have been an integral part of the iconography of power deployed by early Maya rulers.