Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Scepter with Profile Figures, 7th–8th century
    Guatemala; Maya
    Flint; H. 13 5/8 in. (34.6 cm)
    The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Purchase, Nelson A. Rockefeller Gift, 1967 (1978.412.195)

    Maya artists skillfully chipped flint, a fragile and challenging medium, into imaginative multifigure and geometric shapes. The worked flints are frequently found as offerings in Maya tombs. This eccentric flint depicts, in profile, two figures wearing headdresses. The larger of the two sits on a small short-backed stool and the smaller extends out from his back, as if being carried. Each silhouette displays the sloping forehead modification practiced by Maya peoples of the time and each has puckered lips. The undecorated base of this flint would have enabled it to be bound to a staff or it may have served as a handle allowing the object to function as a scepter, perhaps as an emblem of rulership. It has been suggested that the Maya believed flint to have been created when lightning struck the earth, thereby imbuing it with supernatural power. This flint may be a personification of such a power.

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    On view: Gallery 358
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  • Scepter with Profile Figures, 7th–8th century
    Guatemala; Maya
    Flint; H. 13 5/8 in. (34.6 cm)
    The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Purchase, Nelson A. Rockefeller Gift, 1967 (1978.412.195)

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