Jade pendant: contortionist

250–550 CE
more object details

General Description

The carved images kings wore on their foreheads and chests projected supernatural power. This carved jadeite pendant depicts a figure that may represent a contortionist or a bound prisoner and would have originally been suspended from a necklace by the holes on the sides. Incised lines form the profile of the face, and the figure wears a necklace and earspools. The figure's body contorts around the base and side of the bead, his arms rest at the waist, and his feet rest against the top of the head. Captives were often bound in this same way, taken during warfare for the purpose of sacrifice or bloodletting. Objects such as these often accompanied the king on his journey through death to the otherworld.

Elaine Higgins Smith, Digital Collections Content Coordinator, 2016.

Drawn from

  • Carol Robbins, Label text [1968.20], A. H. Meadows Galleries, 2010.

  • Getty Vocabulary, AAT (pendants (jewelry): AAT: 300046002).

  • Mary Ellen Miller and Megan E. O'Neil, Maya art and architecture, 2nd edition (London: Thames & Hudson, 2014): 30, 152-154, 245.