Spherical bead with circles

CULTURE:
Maya
DATE:
600–900 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 spherical bead would have originally been part of a necklace, strung by the holes at the top and bottom. Drilled holes surrounded by incised circles decorate each of the four sides of the bead. This may relate to the four cardinal directions, thus having further cosmological significance.

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).