This small work seems close to the sculptural traditions of the region of Campeche, Mexico. The surface of the head is covered with a dark-green pigment that is considerably eroded, especially at the brow. A faint reddish color is visible in some areas, alternately underlying or covering the green surface. The green pigment appears only on the front of the head; it does not extend over the top of the head, below the chin, or onto the back of the head, possibly implying that the back was attached to a larger surface. The small scale of the work is unusual, making an identification of its original context slightly puzzling. It has been suggested that the head may have been attached to a larger figure as either a pectoral or a belt head, but there are no physical indications that it once had additional ornamentation, such as a headdress, and there are no tenons or other means of attachment visible. As with the eyes and nose, the face, which slants down on the left side of the head, is slightly asymmetrical. The ears are cut through the lobes, and tiny holes are visible on the right side of the mouth.
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. 12, cat. 54.
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, London. p. 250, cat. 103, pl. LXIII
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. 103, pl. 63.
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. 74-75, pl. 5.
"Indigenous Art of the Americas", National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, January 1956 to July 1962.
"Lasting Impressions: Body Art in the Ancient Americas" , Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC, 10/1/2011 - 3/4/2012.
Purchased from Earl Stendahl, Los Angeles (dealer), by Robert Woods Bliss before 1957.
Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art, Washington, DC, until1962.
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Pre-Columbian Collection, Washington, DC.