Skip to Content
Showing 1 of 1

Belt Plaque

Maya, Late Preclassic
150-350 CE
11.75 cm x 5.4 cm (4 5/8 in. x 2 1/8 in.)

On view


Additional Images
Click an image to view a larger version

One side of this plaque is etched with a standing human figure. The figure faces left, with his right hand raised and gesturing, and his left arm hanging down at the side. His head is broken off at the top. He wears a large necklace, bracelets, and anklets. His skirt is topped by a woven belt with a deity-head ornament and three hanging celts. Elaborate leggings support a monster head ornament at each knee.

The back of the plaque bears a double panel of glyphs, possibly the earliest dated Maya text known to scholars. The inscription consists of a date, probably (July 15, 150 CE), followed by the name of a ruler. The glyphs are read in pairs, from top to bottom, and the last one may be an early form of the ahau title of nobility.

Three holes drilled into the plaque suggest that it was hung in several different orientations over time.

Coe, Michael D. 1976 Early Steps in the Evolution of Maya Writing. In Origins of Religious Art and Iconography in Preclassic Mesoamerica, H. B. Nicholson, ed., pp. 107-122. Latin American Studies Series, 31. University of California, Los Angeles, Latin American Center, Los Angeles. p. 120, fig. 17.

Fields, Virginia M. and Dorie Reents-Budet (EDS.) 2005 Lords of Creation: The Origins of Sacred Maya Kingship. Scala; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, London; Los Angeles. p. 196, cat. 92.

Foster, Lynn V. 2002 Handbook to Life in the Ancient Maya World. Facts on File: Library of World History. Facts on File, New York. p. 277.

Graham, Mark Miller 1998 Mesoamerican Jade and Costa Rica. In Jade in Ancient Costa Rica, Mark Miller Graham and Julie Jones, eds., pp. 38-58. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. p. 51, fig. 36.

Grube, Nikolai 1994 Observations on the History of Maya Hieroglyphic Writing. In Seventh Palenque Round Table, 1989, Virginia M. Fields, ed., pp. 177-186. Palenque Round Table (7 Session, 1989). Pre-Columbian Art Research Institute, San Francisco. p. 11.

Grube, Nikolai and Simon Martin 2001 The Coming of Kings: Writing and Dynastic Kingship in the Maya Rea between the Late Preclassic and the Early Classic. In Notebook for the 25th Maya Hieroglyphic Forum at Texas. University of Texas at Austin, Austin. p. II-32.

Houston, Stephen D. 2011 All Things Must Change: Maya Writing over Time and Space. In Their Way of Writing: Scripts, Signs, and Pictographies in Pre-Columbian America, Elizabeth Hill Boone and Gary Urton, eds., pp. 21-42. Dumbarton Oaks Pre-Columbian Symposia and Colloquia. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, D.C., p. 29, fig. 3.5.

Kerr, Justin n.d. A Precolumbian Portfolio: An Archive of Photographs. cat. K2839.

Lange, Frederick W. 1992 Wealth and Hierarchy in the Intermediate Area: A Symposium at Dumbarton Oaks, 10th and 11th October 1987. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, D.C., p. 191.

Law, Daniel A. n.d. A Grammatical Description of the Early Classic Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions. M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, 2006. p. 31, 123.

Macri, Martha J. and Laura M. Stark 1993 A Sign Catalog of the La Mojarra Script. Monograph / Pre-Columbian Art Research Institute; 5. Pre-Columbian Art Research Institute, San Francisco. p. 5.

Mora-Marin, David F. n.d. The Grammar, Orthography, Content, and Social Context of Late Preclassic Mayan Portable Texts. Ph.D. doctoral thesis, Department of Anthropology, State University of New York at Albany, 2001. p. 709, fig. A.1.11.

Mora-Marín, David F., 2001 Late Preclassic Inscription Documentation Project Report submitted to the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc. . fig. 11.

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. 184-189, pl. 19, fig. 101.

Pohl, Mary E. D., Kevin O. Pope and Christopher Von Nagy 2002 Olmec Origins of Mesoamerican Writing. Science 298:1984-1987. fig. 3d.

Schele, Linda n.d. The Linda Schele Drawing Collection. FAMSI, URL: <>. cat. 6908.

Schele, Linda and Mary Ellen Miller 1986 The Blood of Kings: Dynasty and Ritual in Maya Art. Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth. p. 82-83, 99, pl. 22.

Stross, Brian 1992 Olmec Crayfish Farming. Estudios de cultura maya 19:133-186. p. 150.

Exhibition History
"Blood of Kings: A New Interpretation of Maya Art", Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX, 5/17 - 8/24/1986; The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH, 10/8 - 12/14/1986.

"Lords of Creation: The Origins of Sacred Maya Kingship, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA, 9/9/2005 - 1/8/2006; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX, 2/12 - 5/7/2006; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, 6/11/ - 9/10/06.

"Pass It On: Non-Verbal Communication in the Pre-Columbian World", Dumbarton Oaks, Washington DC, 10/10/2008 - 5/1/2009.

Acquisition History
Formerly in the collection of Valetta Malinowski.

Purchased from Valetta Malinowski (collector), by Dumbarton Oaks, 1970.

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

Anthropomorphic | Glyphs | Mayas | Pendant