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Ear ornaments represent one of the more ubiquitous forms of adornment for Maya elite individuals. This ovoid pair of earflares boasts a simple design but fine craftsmanship. Showcasing a fine-grained, mottled-light-green and white jadeite interrupted with bright verdant streaks, the flat face was well smoothed with no remnants of the cut scars. The overall symmetrical shape, similar size, and the slightly rough edge along one small part of the perimeter on both objects strongly suggest that the two works are indeed a pair and were produced from a single nodule of jadeite. The T-shaped profile formed by the perpendicular angle between the cylindrical neck and the flat face conforms to the way earflares are illustrated in profile in Maya art.
Two very small conical perforations (about one millimeter in diameter) pierce the neck of the flares. The holes likely held pins that helped secure the flares on the earlobe. A tubular bead or other object, such as a tassel, would have protruded out from the central hole; alternatively, a throat disk, possibly held by a spheroid bead, would have closed the central hole. A counterweight would have hung down from the back of the ear to secure the flare in position and to balance the weight of the frontal pieces of the assemblage.
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. 31, cat. 157.
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-B, pl. LXVI.
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-B, pl. LXVI.
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. 256-258, pl. 44, fig. 149.
"Indigenous Art of the Americas", National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, July 1959 to July 1962.
Purchased from Robert Stolper, New York (dealer), by Robert Woods Bliss, 1956.
Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art, Washington, DC, 1956-1962.
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Pre-Columbian Collection, Washington, DC.