Pre-Columbian, Mayan Territories, ca. 7th to 9th century CE. A beautiful pair of jade ear spools, each with a round face and a short, cylindrical, hollow plug. Jade ear spools are a symbol of Maya royalty. These examples have inlaid discs of shell at their centers, and the shell is partially covered in fragmented pieces of green stone, forming an interesting textured central surface. Size of one (they are almost identical): 2.95" W (7.5 cm); 5.7" H (14.5 cm) on included custom stand.
Jade was revered by the Maya not only for its beauty, but also because it had spiritual power - it was believed to be the embodiment of the wind and the "breath" that formed the Maya soul. Ear spools like these are often shown in profile in Mayan art, usually with a bead or serpent emerging from that central hollow plug; this is interpreted to be a symbolic supernatural passageway for the breath of the soul to travel through. Ear spools like these were probably heirlooms, their jade and style associated by the Maya with the older cultures before them, specifically the Olmec, and seem to have been passed down through families for centuries. In that sense, they may also have been seen as a way to communicate with the ancestors.
Provenance: private Newport Beach, California, USA collection
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Green stones on center of faces have some losses, as shown. Remains of old repair to center on one. One spool has some small losses on the plug area and what remains has been repaired. The other plug area has been repaired but has all of its elements and the repair is well done and almost invisible. Light encrustation on surfaces of both.