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Mixteca-Puebla, Postclassic, general
900-1520 CE
2.86 cm x 1.27 cm x 0.64 cm (1 1/8 in. x 1/2 in. x 1/4 in.)

On view


Each of these 22 composite objects consists of a gold alloy oval with a flattened edge, a form that resembles the Late Postclassic warrior shield. From one side of each object, three elongated bells are suspended. The overall three-tiered form is typically Mixtec-Aztec in style, although the wire-like middle sections, from which hang the tinklers, are less common than other treatments.
These composite objects are arrayed in a necklace-like fashion, though it would have been necessary to mount them on a backing to wear them as a necklace or on two separate backings for them to function as bracelets. Alternatively, they may have ornamented a piece of clothing or leggings, or even a shield or banner. The presence of the bells in the design means that movement would have activated the sound and the reflective quality of the gold.

Although these objects were definitely reserved for royals, nobles, and high-status com¬moners (such as long-distance merchants), they could be purchased at markets in large cities. At the Tlatelolco market, largest in Tenochtitlan-Tlatelolco, the Spaniards found every kind of merchandise provisions as well as ornaments of gold and silver.

1950 Review of the Taft Exhibition. Art Digest 25 (3). p. 12.

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. 26, cat. 127.

Berdan, Frances and Frank W. Porter 1989 The Aztecs. Indians of North America. Chelsea House Publishers, New York.

Bliss, Robert Woods 1947 Indigenous Art of the Americas: Collection of Robert Woods Bliss. National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., p. 20, 49, cat. 90.

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. 247, cat. 97, pl. LIX.

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. 255, cat. 97, pl. LIX.

Burchwood, Katharine Tyler 1972 The Origin and Legacy of Mexican Art. A. S. Barnes, New York. pl. 24.

Greenwood, Mrs. Hugh A. (ED.) 1941 Special Exhibit of Latin American Silver, October 14-November 15 1941. Pan American Union, Washington, D.C., p. 1, cat. 25.

Liljevalchs konsthall 1952 Mexikansk Konst Från Forntid Till Nutid: [Utställning] Stockholm 1952, Liljevalchs Konsthall. Katalog; Nr. 201. Liljevalchs konsthall, Stockholm. cat. 665e.

Mason, J. Alden 1958 Pre-Columbian Art (Review Article of the 1957 Catalogue). Archaeology II (2):pp. 123-124. pl. LIX.

McDougal Littell 1998 World Art and Culture: Transparencies. McDougal Littell, Houghton Mifflin Co., Evanston, Ill.

Musée National d'Art Moderne 1952 Art Mexicain Du Précolombien Á Nos Jours. 2. éd. rev. et corr. ed. Presses artistiques, Paris. cat. 526, pl. 38.

Nicholson, H. B. and Eloise Quiñones Keber 1983 Art of Aztec Mexico: Treasures of Tenochtitlan. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., p. 157, cat. 72.

Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology 1940 An Exhibition of Pre-Columbian Art. January 15 through February 10, Arranged by the Peabody Museum and the William Hayes Fogg Art Museum. Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., cat. 230.

Smith, Michael Ernest 1996 The Aztecs. Peoples of America. Blackwell Publishers, Malden. p. 104, fig. 4.9.

Smith, Michael Ernest 2003 The Aztecs. 2nd ed. The Peoples of America. Blackwell Pub., Malden. p. 97, fig. 4.10.

Solís Olguín, Felipe R. and Martha Carmona Macías 1995 El Oro Precolombino De México: Colecciones Mixteca Y Azteca. Américo Arte Editores, México, D.F.

Sotheby 1937 Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Indian and South American Antiquities, Native Art. Sotheby, London.

Wenham, Edward 1937 Spanish-American Silverwork, Part 2. In Apollo, pp. 258-265. vol. 26. Apollo, London. p. 258, fig. 1a.

Willey, Gordon Randolph 1966 An Introduction to American Archaeology. Prentice-Hall Anthropology Series. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., p. 164.

Exhibition History
"An Exhibition of Pre-Columbian Art", Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, MA, 1/15 - 3/2/1940 (catalogue # 230).

"Twenty Centuries of Mexican Art", Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, 5/15 - 9/30/1940.

"Special Exhibit of Latin American Silver", Pan American Union, Washington DC, 10/14 - 11/15/1941 (catalogue # 25).

"Ancient American Art", Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA, April - June 1942; M. H. De Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, CA, July - August 1942; Portland Museum of Art, Portland, OR, September - October 1942 (catalogue # 97).

"Art of the Americas", The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH, 11/8/1945 - 1/6/1946.

"Indigenous Art of the Americas", National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, April 1947 to July 1962.

"Ancient American Gold and Jade", Taft Museum, Cincinnati, OH, 10/6 - 11/19/1950 (catalogue # 190).

"Art méxicain du précolombien à nos jours", Musée National d 'art Moderne, Paris, France, 5/9 - 7/30/1952 (catalogue # 526).

"Mexikansk Konst fran Forntid till Nutid", Liljevalchs Konsthall, Stockholm, Sweden, 1952 (catalogue 665e).

"Art of Aztec Mexico: Treasures of Tenochtitlan", National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, 9/28/1983 - 4/1/1984.

Acquisition History
10 out of 22 beads:
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.

12 out of 22 beads:
Purchased from John Wise, New York (dealer), by Robert Woods Bliss, April 12, 1940.

Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art, Washington, DC, 1940-1962.

Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Pre-Columbian Collection, Washington, DC.

Animals | Bead | Mixtecs | Necklaces