Pre-Columbian Collection

record 1 of 1

  • Pendant of a Frontal Face

  • Maya, Preclassic, general
  • 300 BCE - 300 CE
  • 4.13 cm x 4.76 cm x 0.95 cm (1 5/8 in. x 1 7/8 in. x 3/8 in.)
  • jadeite
  • PC.B.167
  • Currently not on view
  • Description

    Pierced in the upper two corners, this flat, quadrangular jadeite object was probably a pendant accompanied by three accessory pieces suspended from the three perforations at the base. Mottled with varying shades of green, the work depicts a simple face in frontal view, with large circular eyes, a stubby, rounded nose, and an elongated, I-shaped mouth. On each side of the mouth, parallel to the edge of the face, is a groove along with two notches above and below it, probably to delineate the ears. Initial attempts to thin the back with tubular drills were abandoned, though they would have facilitated the drilling of the perforations.

    The techniques used to shape the facial features and the overall style of this object suggest a possible Late Preclassic date, as similarities can be observed with the face of a Late Preclassic statuette PC.B.013. The eyes, as well as the lines that cross the bottom of the nose and the top of the nose bridge, were carved using a hollow tubular drill. These carvings are relatively shallow, leaving a muted appearance that is reinforced by the dullness of the carved lines. A hole was drilled from the back side to make each corner of the mouth. As attested by the jagged surface along the mouth’s edges, a string saw was then utilized to connect these holes to create the I shape. The lower edges of the mouth corners and the basal edge of the pendant immediately below show evidence of grooving. This may be the result of string-sawing, perhaps caused by the process used to enlarge the mouth corners, or it may have been an attempt to create a down-turned.

  • Bibliography

    Benson, Elizabeth P. 1963 Handbook of the Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art. Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, D.C., p. 14, cat. 64.

    Bliss, Robert Woods 1957 Pre-Columbian Art: The Robert Woods Bliss Collection. (Text and Critical Analyses by S. K. Lothrop, Joy Mahler and William F. Foshag). Phaidon Publishers Inc, London, distributed by Garden City Books, New York. p. 250, cat. 104-B, pl. LXIV

    Bliss, Robert Woods 1959 Pre-Columbian Art: The Robert Woods Bliss Collection. (Text and Critical Analyses by S. K. Lothrop, Joy Mahler and William F. Foshag).  2nd ed. Phaidon Publishers Inc, London, distributed by Garden City Books, New York. p. 258, cat. 104-B, pl. 64.

  • Weight

    39.85 g

  • Exhibition History

    "Indigenous Art of the Americas", National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, August 1956 to July 1962.

    "All Sides Considered: New Research on the Maya Collection:, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington DC, 09/08/12 - 06/02/13.

  • Acquisition History

    Purchased from Robert Stolper, New York (dealer), by Robert Woods Bliss, 1956.

    Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art, Washington, DC, 1956-1962.

    Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Pre-Columbian Collection, Washington, DC.


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