Pre-Columbian, Mexico and northern Central America, Mayan Territories, Late Classic, ca. 550 to 900 CE. A large stone pendant, pierced through the top of the headdress and at three points on its lower end - on both earlobes and the chin. The pendant is in the form of a head, possibly that of a god, portrayed here with its mouth square-shaped, with a deep, round indentation, giving the impression of a scream or shout. The figure has heavy-lidded eyes, a prominent, straight nose, and a heavy brow and long chin. The top of the head ends in what may be a topknot or possibly a form indicating a deliberately shaped skull. Size: 1.25" W x 2.5" H (3.2 cm x 6.4 cm)
The face depicted in this amulet has the supernatural features associated with Mayan depictions of gods, but because the Maya often combined elements of different gods in a single depiction, identifying who an image represents has proven difficult. The open mouth invites comparison to a god capable of controlling wind. The value of jade for people in ancient Central America lay in its symbolic power: perhaps its color was associated with water and vegetation, and it also seems to have related to beliefs about death and the afterlife. For example, the Maya placed jade beads in the mouths of the dead, and this pendant likely once adorned someone in the grave.
Provenance: private Los Angeles County, California, USA collection
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Wear to surface commensurate with age, including light encrustation in the lower profile areas.