This necklace includes 39 stone beads of cuboid shape, resulting in six surfaces for each piece. The beads vary in size: larger examples measure 2.55 cm by 2.07 cm by 2.42 cm, and smaller pieces are 1.39 cm by 1.39 cm by 1.5 cm. Most of the beads have an olive green color. Aside from variation in size, the beads also differ in their configuration and/or decoration; with five distinctly recognizable types.
Type 1 is represented by 18 beads that have an interlacing pattern of scrolls revolving around a shallow perforation done with a hollow tubular drill bit. The two surfaces that touch neighboring beads have a squared shape with a bore traversing the pieces. Two beads of this type bear traces of red pigment. Type 1 may be a three-dimensional rendering of the glyph for “knot” used in some Mesoamerican scribal traditions.
Type 2, of which there is only one bead, has an elevated circular ring with an interior concentric groove accomplished by a shallow perforation that was made using a hollow tubular drill bit. The two surfaces that touch neighboring beads are similar to the other sides, except that no concentric groove is present. This bead may be a three-dimensional rendering of the glyph for “earth” (center and four corners) common to several Mesoamerican scripts.
Type 3 includes 14 beads, 12 large and 2 small versions. The cubic pieces display four lobes in each surface. Only those that touch neighboring beads have a bore in the center. Type 4 beads, represented by two exemplars, display in each surface nine lobes. The surfaces that touch neighboring beads sport the transverse perforation. Types 3 and 4 may include representation of flowers.
Type 5, with only four beads, resembles type 1 except that the objects are flatter, so that the borders of the scrolls reach the edge of the cuboid pieces. Another difference is that the shallow holes were executed with a solid tubular drill bit. One of these beads has minute traces of red pigment.
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. 29, cat. 144.
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. 246, cat. 78, pl. XLVIII.
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. 254, cat. 78, pl. XLVIII.
Charlot, Jean 1958 The Indian beneath the Skin (Review of 1957 Catalogue). In Art news, New York. p. 42-43.
Solís Olguín, Felipe R. 2004 The Aztec Empire: Catalogue of the Exhibition. Guggenheim Museum Publications, New York. p. 42, cat. 181, catalogue entry by Juan Antonio Murro.
"Indigenous Art of the Americas", National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, November 1952 to July 1962.
"The Aztec Empire", Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY, 10/14/2004 - 2/13/2005; Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain 3/15/ - 9/4/2005.
"The Aztec World", Field Museum, Chicago IL, 10/26/2008 - 4/19/2009.
Purchased from Earl Stendahl, Los Angeles (dealer), by Robert Woods Bliss, 1950.
Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art, Washington, DC, 1950-1962.
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Pre-Columbian Collection, Washington, DC.