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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 Lord exhibit a spangled headdress with knotted hair
This piece shows signs of darkened color, perhaps from exposure to fire or incense, 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 P. 1963 Handbook of the Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art. Dumbarton Oaks, 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.
McVicker, Donald and Joel W. Palka 2001 A Maya Carved Shell Plaque from Tula, Hidalgo, Mexico. Ancient Mesoamerica 12 (2):175-197. p. 179, fig. 5b.
Mora-Marin, David F 2007 Two Incised Shell Silhouette Plaques at Dumbarton Oaks. FAMSI Journal of the Ancient Americas online version. fig. 1b, 3a. 3b, 5a.
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. 445, 447-450, pl. 83, fig. 256, 259.
"Indigenous Art of the Americas", National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, January 1956 to July 1962.
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.