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Throne Pendant

Maya, Late Classic
700-800 CE
9.84 cm x 6.35 cm x 0.95 cm (3 7/8 in. x 2 1/2 in. x 3/8 in.)

On view


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The enthroned lord is a dominant theme in Classic Maya imagery. Even when appearing alone, as on this shell pendant, the ruler on his seat of power implies an audience of courtiers.
Made of the queen conch (Strombus gigas), the object had it recessed areas created by boring, sometimes by multiple drilling, and was hollowed out further by scoring and polishing. A file helped to define the toes and edges. A fine abrasive probably assisted in the smoothing of surfaces. Faint red pigment appears in most of the shallower incisions that define the figure.
The figure face to the viewer’s left, a standard pose for a ruler when addressing courtiers, visitors, or captives. His right hand, lightly clenched or extended, rose to his chests, while his left hand, with fingers seemingly in flutter, rest on his knees. Presumably, this gesture is not only conventional but also hints at some specific nuance of interaction.
The plaque has post-deposition alteration that has damaged it surface, it retain insets of greenstone, though some may be modern additions, and a decayed hematite. This throne image was perforated for suspension, probably as pectoral.

Benson, Elizabeth 1963 Handbook of the Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art. Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, D.C., p. 15, cat. 70.

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. 250, cat. 104, pl. LXIV.

Bliss, Robert Woods 1959 Pre-Columbian Art: The Robert Woods Bliss Collection. 2nd ed. Text and Critical Analyses by S. K. Lothrop, Joy Mahler and William F. Foshag. Phaidon, London. p. 258, cat. 104, pl. LXIV.

Goldstein, Marilyn M. and Lourdes Suáres Diez 1997 Conchas Precolombianas: Mesoamerican Art Created from Seashells. Hillwood Art Museum Long Island University C.W. Post Campus, New York. p. 82.

Mora-Marin, David F. 2007 Two Incised Shell Silhouette Plaques at Dumbarton Oaks. FAMSI Journal of the Ancient Americas. online version. fig. 1a, 2.

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

"Conchas Precolombianas: Mesoamerican Art Created From Seashells", Hillwood Art Museum, Long Island University, Brookville, NY, 11/5 - 12/24/1997.

Acquisition History
Purchased from Earl Stendahl, Los Angeles (dealer), by Robert Woods Bliss, 1954.

Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art, Washington, DC, 1954-1962.

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

Anthropomorphic | Mayas