- Museum number
Engraved plaque, amulet (?), pendant (?) made of jade.
- Production date
Height: 7 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Blurton, 1997
Jade plaques, pendants and tubular beads formed a significant part of the regalia of Maya dignitaries, priests and rulers (see also Am.1938,1021.25). The appeal of this extremely hard stone lay not solely in its aesthetic qualities, but primarily n its scarcity, which ensured its exclusive use by persons of rank. Among the Maya, jade ornaments were prized more highly than gold. They are likely to have been given as prestigious gifts or as offerings to the gods. Many beliefs and customs were associated with the perceived life-giving properties of jade. Upon the death of a ruler, it was common to place a small piece of jade in the mouth of the deceased in order to ensure his continued spiritual survival. Among the finest jade ornaments are the small flat plaques engraved with the representation of human faces or figures. Many jade pieces are discovered outside an archaeological context and it is thus difficult to assign precise dates or geographical locations.
The plaques are frequently pierced with suspension holes and would have been included in necklaces or headdresses, or worn as separate pendants. In many examples the natural shape of the stone appears to restrict the full representation of the figures which may appear disproportionate or incomplete. The figures engraved on the plaques are notable for their wealth of personal ornament and are shown wearing liberal quantities of necklaces, anklets, armlets, ear ornaments and splendid headdresses. These may be regarded as symbols of wealth, status or allegiance and would have been worn on ritual occasions. The elaborate headdress often takes the form of totemic bird or animal figures (see Am.9868). The Maya practice of cranial deformation, which resulted in the accentuated flattening of the forehead, may also be seen on certain plaques where the head is shown in profile.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1997 13 Oct-1998 5 Jan, India, New Delhi, National Museum, The Enduring Image
1998 9 Feb-3 May, India, Mumbai, Sir Caswasjee Jahangir Hall, The Enduring Image
- Acquisition date
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
CDMS number: Am1872C1.8380 (old CDMS no.)