Jadeite works of varying sizes and shapes helped complete the attire of elite individuals. Their colorful garb included valuable materials, such as woven textiles, pelts, feathers, and worked mollusk shell. Form alone does not dictate the function of an ornamental object, as iconographic depictions indicate that similar forms of objects were used in diverse ways.
Frequently labeled as “countersunk ornaments” or “buttons,” this sombrero-shaped jade ornament has a cuplike, concave frontal side, a prominent central protuberance pierced by a conically drilled perforation; the back side is merely rounded. This object may have been used singly, such as on the forehead, in similar fashion to the alternative uses of earflares. Interestingly, the very tip of the central protuberance is rougher than the rest of the object, indicative of use-wear from something rubbing against it. Perhaps a spherical bead was attached, as shown on the headdress of a figure on one of the Dumbarton Oaks vessels (PC.B.204). The back side is also well smoothed and polished, suggesting the object was intended to be viewed from both sides.
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. 14, cat. 66.
Bliss, Robert Woods 1947 Indigenous Art of the Americas: Collection of Robert Woods Bliss. National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian institution, Washington, D.C., p. 14, 69, cat. 50.
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. 251, cat. 116, pl. LXV, bottom right.
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. 259, cat. 116, pl. LXV, bottom right.
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. 260, 262-265, pl. 45 (left), fig. 153 (left).
"Indigenous Art of the Americas", National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, March 1947 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 1947.
Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art, Washington, DC, 1947-1962.
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Pre-Columbian Collection, Washington, DC.