Pre-Columbian, Maya, Classic period, ca. 550 to 900 CE. A fierce jaguar-headed pendant figurine, carved from pale, pistachio-hued green stone, with two rounded ears, drilled eyes, full lips carved into a slight grin, a bulbous head, and a serpent-like tail carved with curved, sinuous designs that form a relief impression of two snakes. The center of the body has been biconically-drilled for suspension. Size: 3.25" W x 1.25" H (8.3 cm x 3.2 cm)
The form of the jaguar was revered throughout the Pre-Columbian New World as the mightiest wild feline and was used as a symbol of power and kingship. In Classic Maya art, the jaguar is associated with lordly might and as an avatar for the gods. Many rulers during this time took jaguar names: Shield-Jaguar and Bird-Jaguar, for example. One of the Hero Twins described in the Quiche book Popol Voh, the most famous Maya text, is named Xbalanque, which is almost certainly derived from the word for jaguar, "balam", and that twin is shown in art with jaguar pelt markings on his face and body.
Provenance: private Los Angeles County, California, USA collection
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Wearable with necklace. Surface wear commensurate with age and slight surface pitting, else very good and with great mineral deposits.