Maize God emerging from a flower


Not on view

This hand-modeled ceramic sculpture depicts the head and torso of a youthful Maize God emerging from the center of a ripe ear of corn. The young Maize God has idealized facial features and elongated head. He wears a fringed headdress, perhaps of feathers, that has flattened and turned back fringes at the top-center. He wears a beaded necklace and ear spools with projecting centers. He folds his arms across his chest, proper left under proper right, resting his forearms atop the folded down corn husk in the center of the sculpture.

The ear of corn sprouts from a long, narrow stem that is unadorned except for some minor areas of extant blue pigment. A tall, almond-shaped leaf stands upright behind the figure with three vertical lines gently incised on its outer surface (the back of the sculpture); another leaf of similar shape and size folds gently down in front to reveal six grains of corn arranged in two parallel vertical rows visually separated by three incised lines. A third blade-like leaf, shorter and narrower than the others, projects diagonally from the proper left side of the sculpture.

This object is probably from Jaina Island (present-day Campeche) in Mexico. It bears striking similarities to other hand-modeled Jaina figurines and effigies that depict deities emerging from flowers or other vegetation. While the depiction of identifiable deities is relatively uncommon in Jaina figurines, this sub-group of Jaina sculpture seems to portray gods exclusively.

Published References

Finamore, Daniel and Stephen D. Houston. 2010. Fiery Pool: The Maya and the Mythic Sea. Salem, MA: Peabody Essex Museum and New Haven: Yale University Press. Pl. 16, Pp. 58-61.

Further Reading

For comparanda and original definition of this subgroup of Jaina figurines, see:

Miller, Mary Ellen. 1975. Jaina Figurines: A Study of Maya Iconography. Princeton: Princeton University Art Museum. Figs. 22-24, p. 52.

O'Neil, Megan E. 2012. Jaina-style Figurines. In Ancient Maya Art at Dumbarton Oaks (edited by Joanne Pillsbury, Miriam Doutriaux, Reiko Ishihara-Brito, and Alexandre Tokovinine), 398-430. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection.

For comparanda:

Finamore, Daniel and Stephen D. Houston. 2010. Fiery Pool: The Maya and the Mythic Sea. New Haven: Yale University Press and Salem: Peabody Essex Museum. [Pp. 60-61, Pls. 15, 16]

Schmidt, Peter, Mercedes de la Garza, and Enrique Nalda. 1998. Maya. Milan: Rizzoli/Bompiani. [p. 593, Pls. 299, 300]

Maize God emerging from a flower, Ceramic, pigment, Maya

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