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Tubular Bead

Olmec, Middle Preclassic
900 BCE - 300 BCE
16.19 cm x 1.91 cm (6 3/8 in. x 3/4 in.)

Not on view


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Due to their simple form, tubular jade beads often are difficult to source and date. Nonetheless, this large bead can be reasonably attributed to the Middle Preclassic Olmec. It is carved from high quality, semi-translucent jadeite and exhibit considerable amounts of cinnabar staining, qualities that are relatively common to Olmec jades. Similar in size and general form, this object and bead PC.B.027, were purchased from Earl Stendahl in 1949, and it is possible that they derive from the same archaeological source.

This longer and narrower bead is encircled with two parallel grooves at both ends. Near either end of the otherwise smoothly ground and polished surface, there are two shallow, facet-like indentations, evidently attempts to remove flawed areas of stone.

Benson, Elizabeth P. 1963 Handbook of the Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art. Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, D.C., p. 31, cat. 155.

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, New York. p. 235, cat. 19, pl. X.

Taube, Karl A. 2004 Olmec Art at Dumbarton Oaks. Pre-Columbian Art at Dumbarton Oaks; No. 2. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, D.C., p. 173-4, pl. 37.

Exhibition History
"Indigenous Art of the Americas", National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, November 1952 to July 1962.

Acquisition History
Purchased from Earl Stendahl, Los Angeles (dealer), by Robert Woods Bliss, 1949.

Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art, Washington, DC, 1949-1962.

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

Related Objects

Bead | Olmecs