This jadeite fragment appears to have been broken from a larger ornament. The tapered rectangular shape is wider across the top than at the bottom edge of the bead. While the front of the bead depicts a small human face emerging from the jaws of a long-snouted creature, the back simply reveals a groove extending from top to bottom—an indication that the fragment was cut in half. A notch at the top of the groove implies that, while the top edge was deliberately smoothed, an attempt was made to drill a hole for suspension through the center of the newly shaped bead. Two successfully drilled holes—one at the hinge of the upper and lower jaw of the creature on the bottom edge and one above the profile human head on the proper left side—orient the pendant so that it would have been worn at an angle, with the carved face looking up at the face of the person wearing the bead. This object shows considerable wear on its frontal surface, making the identification of the long-snouted creature difficult, although the length of the snout and its upward-curling tip suggest a caiman.
Bliss, Robert Woods 1947 Indigenous Art of the Americas: Collection of Robert Woods Bliss. National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian institution, Washington, D.C., p. 11, 69, cat. 22.
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. 107, pl. LXV.
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. 107, pl. LXV.
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. 222-223, pl. 31, fig. 127.
Sotheby 1937 Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Indian and South American Antiquities, Native Art. Sotheby, London.
"Indigenous Art of the Americas", National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, April 1947 to July 1949, November 1952 to July 1962.
Formerly in the Mrs. Jean Holland Collection.
Purchased from Sotheby's, London (auction house), by Robert Woods Bliss, June 9 1937.
Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art, Washington, DC, 1937-1962.
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Pre-Columbian Collection, Washington, DC.