- 7th–8th century
- Guatemala or Mexico, Mesoamerica
- Shell (Spondylus)
- H. 3 3/4 x W. 2 3/8 x D. 1 in. (9.5 x 6 x 2.5 cm)
- Credit Line:
- The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
- Accession Number:
This orange shell pendant represents a dog. The dog seems to snarl as it raises its snout to expose sharp teeth. A depression indicates the eye, framed by the upper jaw and the heavy supraorbital brow. The artist painstakingly carved the outline of the canine and thinned one half of the bivalve Spondylus princeps, utilizing the curve of the shell to portray the dog’s tail as extended toward the viewer. The dog seems to be in motion, perhaps even depicted as on its back and flailing its four limbs in the air in a pose of submission.
Three drilled holes indicate that this shell dog may have been strung as a pendant or perhaps sewn into a garment. The dog, a common character in Maya art and texts across media, may have been a totemic symbol for a clan or the part of the name of its wearer.
James Doyle, 2016