* A large Mayan Jade Pendant, Middle to Late Classic Period, ca. 500 - 800 CE


Carved from a stunning piece of mottled apple green jade, this large pendant depicts the head of a ruler or noble wearing an elaborate feathered headdress and disc ear spools. Remains of red pigment indicate that the owner of this pendant was a member of the ruling elite or possibly even royalty.

Background:  Red pigments were closely linked to blood, while green jade was associated with living breath, new growth, and life. The combination (and juxtaposition) of blood-red pigments with bright green jade in the context of a royal tomb was thus highly symbolic, ensuring eternal life for the deceased king and his rebirth into divine realms from the earthly world.

All Mesoamerican jade comes from a single source, located in the Motagua River Valley of eastern highland Guatemala. Such a restricted point of access made jade a particularly rare and valuable material, an important element in elite trade networks and economic exchange systems in the ancient Maya world. In this world, religious belief and ideology were not separable from matters of economy, so the power of the king derived as much from mythical precedents and divine sanction as it did from the practical realities of agricultural production and economic success.

Condition: A few remaining scattered traces of red pigment on the surface. Drilled perforation through the center for suspension. Intact, and in excellent condition overall.  A beautiful example.

Dimensions: Length: 2 5/8 inches (6.6 cm), Width: 2 3/8 inches (6 cm)

Provenance: Private Nevada collection, acquired from Alan Rosen, Florida, 1980s. Exhibited Marjorie Barrick Museum, UNLV, 1990s.

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