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Eccentric Flint

Maya, Late Classic
600-700 CE
8.89 cm x 6.99 cm x 1 cm (3 1/2 in. x 2 3/4 in. x 3/8 in.)

On view


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Unlike the other two eccentrics in the collection (PC.B.587 and PC.B.588), this flint is a “grotesque” form, meaning a non-anthropomorphic representation of a supernatural—in this case, is a profile of K’awiil—that is, God K, the “serpent-footed god” or scepter god. Features shared by the three specimens are the long, curved, backward-sweeping, notched headdresses of the central figures; projecting cylindrical, bifurcated forehead elements; and squarish notches at the back of the central heads that define upright necks and shoulders. In this piece, the forehead element is longer and larger than those of the six human heads on the other two specimens. This element also has asymmetrical volutes at its terminus; they curl back toward the forehead rather than away, as with those on pc.b.587 and pc.b.588. The wide-open, elongated mouth of this entity exposes six crocodile-like teeth in the lower jaw and a projecting, horizontal lower lip. Three triangular teeth are shown in the upper jaw, with the horizontal projection being a special, long, central tooth. The end of the upper jaw curves upward to a curled lip, but this element has been broken off. At the end of the snout is a shallow, squared notch that helps define the upper lip. The sloping forehead shows a large oval notch that occurs just in front of the long eye of K’awiil.

Joyce, T. A. 1932 The "Eccentric Flints" of Central America. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland LXII. p. xvii-xxvi.

McAnany, Patricia Ann 1995 Living with the Ancestors: Kinship and Kingship in Ancient Maya Society. 1st ed. University of Texas Press, Austin. p. 46, fig. 2.11.

Miller, Mary Ellen, Simon Martin and Kathleen Berrin 2004 Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya. Thames & Hudson, New York. p. 150-151, pl. 80.

Pillsbury, Joanne, Miriam Doutriaux, Reiko Ishihara-Brito and Alexandre Tokovinine (EDS.) 2012 Ancient Maya Art at Dumbarton Oaks. Pre-Columbian Art at Dumbarton Oaks, Number 4. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, D.C., p. 277, pl. 52, fig. 161, 284-287.

Robicsek, Francis 1978 The Smoking Gods: Tobacco in Maya Art, History, and Religion. 1st ed. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. p. 76, fig. 79f.

Titmus, Gene L. and James C. Woods 2003 The Maya Eccentric: Evidence for the Use of the Indirect Percussion Technique in Mesoamerica from Preliminary Experiments Concerning Their Manufacture. In Mesoamerican Lithic Technology: Experimentation and Interpretation, Kenn Hirth, ed., pp. 132-146. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City. p. 135, fig. 9.3.

Exhibition History
"Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya", National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, 4/4 - 7/25/2004; California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA, 9/4/2004 - 1/2/2005.

Acquisition History
Purchased from Alphonse Jax, New York (dealer), by Dumbarton Oaks, 1970.

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

Anthropomorphic | Mayas