Bead: human head

CULTURE:
Maya
DATE:
400 BCE–250 CE
more object details

General Description

Jade and other greenstones were the most precious materials for the ancient Maya, equivalent to emeralds and diamonds in Western culture. Not only was jade carved into beads that functioned as both jewelry and currency, but this lustrous material was also carved into magical objects that were alive with soul-force and, thus, either useful or potentially harmful.

The carved images kings wore on their foreheads and chests projected supernatural power. This carved jadeite bead depicts a human head and would have originally been suspended from a necklace, strung by the hole at the sides of the bead. The figure wears either a headdress or knotted hairstyle. The bead may be unfinished as the facial features are only slightly indicated by incised lines, with the eyes and nose being the most pronounced.

Elaine Higgins Smith, Digital Collections Content Coordinator, 2016.

Drawn from

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

  • Carol Robbins, Label text [1973.46], A. H. Meadows Galleries, 2010.

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