Implement with mat design

600–900 CE
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General Description

This carved bone implement is incised with a woven mat design and crowned by foliage at the top. Scholars have associated these types of interwoven designs with royalty and thus may have identified the owner as a member of the elite, perhaps a ruler. Though the function of this implement is unknown, sharpened bones were often used as bloodletting implements to pierce the body and collect blood. Through ritual bloodletting, the king could connect to the spiritual world and harness its power. For the Maya, this act of self-sacrifice was necessary in order to maintain balance within the supernatural world and legitimize rulership, which would further connect this imagery to its function.

Elaine Higgins Smith, Digital Collections Content Coordinator, 2016.

Drawn from

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

  • Elin C. Danien, "A Reinterpretation of the Chamá Vase," in The Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc. (FAMSI). Accessed 31 August 2015.