Portraits of deities combine human and nonhuman attributes. Carved in costly jade, this effigy figure seated in the customary pose of a king wearing elaborate jewels also boasts animal features, including scales on the arms and a pointed beak. Still other elements, such as the large eyes with square pupils, have no correlates in the natural world, underscoring the figure’s divine status.
Figura de deidad Sur de México, Guatemala, Honduras o Belice Siglo III al VI Jade
Los retratos de los dioses combinan rasgos humanos y no humanos. Esta imagen, labrada en jade, muestra a un personaje ricamente ataviado con joyas, sentado en la posición usual de los monarcas. También se distinguen escamas en sus brazos y el pico puntiagudo de un ave. Los grandes ojos con pupilas cuadradas destacan su condición divina.
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Geography:Southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, or Belize
Medium:Jade (pyroxene jadeite)
Dimensions:H. 4 1/4 x W. 2 1/2 x D. 15/16 in. (10.8 x 6.4 x 2.3 cm)
Credit Line:The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
[Allan Caplan, New York, until 1963]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1963, on loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1963–1978
Museum of Primitive Art. "Works from the Permanent Collection: Textiles of Ancient Peru/Sculpture of Middle America," May 15, 1963–September 8, 1963.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art of Oceania, Africa and the Americas from The Museum of Primitive Art," May 10–August 17, 1969.
American Federation of Arts. "Primitive Art/Masterworks," January 5, 1975–May 15, 1977.
Seattle Art Museum. "Primitive Art/Masterworks," January 5, 1975–February 16, 1975.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "Primitive Art/Masterworks," March 23, 1975–May 4, 1975.
Dallas Museum of Art. "Primitive Art/Masterworks," June 8, 1975–July 20, 1975.
Art Institute of Chicago. "Primitive Art/Masterworks," August 25, 1975–October 10, 1975.
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. "Primitive Art/Masterworks," November 9, 1975–December 21, 1975.
Toledo Museum of Art. "Primitive Art/Masterworks," April 11, 1976–May 25, 1976.
Walker Art Center. "Primitive Art/Masterworks," June 27, 1976–August 8, 1976.
Denver Art Museum. "Primitive Art/Masterworks," September 10, 1976–November 7, 1976.
de Young Museum, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. "Primitive Art/Masterworks," March 12, 1977–May 15, 1977.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Lives of the Gods: Divinity in Maya Art," November 14, 2022–April 2, 2023.
Kimbell Art Museum. "Lives of the Gods: Divinity in Maya Art," May 7–September 3, 2023.
Núñez Ch., Jesús. "Placas de jade de las ruinas Mayas de Copan." 33 Congreso Internacional de Americanistas, San Jose vol. 2 (1958), pp. 219–28, pl. 3.
Metropolitan Museum of Art. Art of Oceania, Africa, and the Americas from the Museum of Primitive Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1969, no. 630.
American Federation of Arts. Primitive Art Masterworks: an exhibition jointly organized by the Museum of Primitive Art and the American Federation of Arts, New York. New York: American Federation of Arts, 1974, no. 19.
Bardawil, Lawrence. "The Principal Bird Deity in Maya Art- an Iconographic Study of Form and Meaning." In The Art, Iconography, and Dynastic History of Palenque, Part III (Proceedings of the Segunda Mesa Redonda de Palenque, edited by Merle Greene. Pebble Beach: Pre-Columbian Art Research, The Robert Louis Stevenson School, 1976, pp. 195–209.
Newton, Douglas. Masterpieces of Primitive Art: The Nelson A. Rockefeller Collection. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978, p. 155.
Parsons, Lee Allen. "Altars 9 and 10, Kaminaljuyu, and the Evolution of the Serpent-Winged Deity." In Civilization in the Ancient Americas, Essays in Honor of Gordon R. Willey, edited by Richard M. Leventhal. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1983, pp. 145–56.
Cortez, Constance. "The Principal Bird Deity in Preclassic and Early Classic Maya Art." Master's thesis, University of Texas at Austin, 1986.
Schele, Linda, and Mary Ellen Miller. The Blood of Kings: Dynasty and Ritual in Maya Art. New York and Fort Worth: George Braziller, 1986, p. 122, pl. 35.
Hellmuth, Nicholas M. Monster Und Menschen in Der Maya-Kunst : Eine Ikonographie Der Alten Religionen Mexikos Und Guatemalas. Graz: Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt, 1987.
Taube, Karl A. A Representation of the Principal Bird Deity in the Paris Codex. Research Reports on Ancient Maya Writing, no. 6. Washington, DC: Center for Maya Research, 1987.
Kerr, Justin. "The hero twins: myth and image." In The Maya Vase Book: A Corpus of Rollout Photographs of Maya Vases, edited by Justin Kerr. Vol. 1. New York: Kerr Associates, 1989, pp. 161–84.
Fash, William L. Scribes, Warriors and Kings: The City of Copán and the Ancient Maya. London, 1991 , See especially pl. VIII and pp. 147–49.
Freidel, David A., Linda Schele, and Joy Parker. Maya Cosmos: Three Thousand Years on the Shaman's Path. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1993, See especially pp. 211, 213, 449 (Note 81).
Bishop, Ronald, Frederick W. Lange, and Elizabeth Kennedy Easby. "Jade in Meso-America." In Jade, edited by Roger Keverne Ltd. New York: Lorenz Books, 1995, pp. 316–37, See especially fig. 28.
Schmidt, Peter, Mercedes de la Garza, and Enrique Nalda. Maya: Exhibition at the Palazzo Grassi in 1998. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1998, See especially Cat. 284.
Taube, Karl A. "The Jade Hearth: Centrality, Rulership, and the Classic Maya Temple." In Function and Meaning in Classic Maya Architecture, edited by Stephen D. Houston. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1998, pp. 427–79.
Taube, Karl A. "Lightning Celts and Corn Fetishes: The Formative Olmec and the Development of Maize Symbolism in Mesoamerica and the American Southwest." In Olmec Art and Archaeology in Mesoamerica, edited by John E. Clark, and Mary E. Pye. Washington, DC and New Haven: National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., 2000, pp. 297–337.
Fash, Barbara W., and Karla Davis-Salazar. "Setting the Stage: Origins of the Hieroglyphic Stairway Plaza on the Great Period Ending." In Understanding Early Classic Copan, edited by Ellen E. Bell, Marcello A. Canuto, and Robert J. Sharer. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, 2004, pp. 65–83.
Nakamura, Seiichi. "Culto funerario de Copán en el siglo VI: un estudio de caso en el Conjunto 10J-45." In Culto funerario en la sociedad Maya: memoria de la Cuarta Mesa Redonda de Palenque, edited by Rafael Cobos. Mexico: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico City, 2004.
Fields, Virginia M., and Dorie Reents-Budet. Lords of Creation: The Origins of Sacred Maya Kingship. London and Los Angeles: Scala Publishers Limited, 2005, See especially pp. 44–45, 114 (Cat. 20), 116–117, 148–150 (Cat. 50–51), 169 (Cat. 66).
Taube, Karl A. "The Symbolism of Jade in Classic Maya Religion." Ancient Mesoamerica vol. 16, no. 1 (2005), pp. 23–50.
Boundary End Archaeological Research Center. Sacred Bundles: Ritual Acts of Wrapping and Binding in Mesoamerica, edited by Julia Guernsey, and F. Kent Reilly III. Barnardsville, NC, 2006.
Stuart, David. "Jade and Chocolate: Bundles of Wealth in Classic Maya Economics and Ritual." In Sacred Bundles: Ritual Acts of Wrapping and Binding in Mesoamerica, edited by Julia Guernsey, and F. Kent Reilly III. Barnardsville, NC: Boundary End Archaeological Research Center, 2006, pp. 127–44.
Stuart, David. "The Name of Paper: The Mythology of Crowning and Royal Nomenclature on Palenque’s Palace Tablet." In Maya Archaeology 2, edited by Charles Golden, Stephen D. Houston, and Joel Skidmore. San Francisco: Precolumbia Mesoweb Press, 2006, pp. 118–48.
Christenson Allen J. Popul Vuh: The Sacred Book of the Ancient Maya. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2007.
Bassie-Sweet, Karen. Maya Sacred Geography and the Creator Deities. Civilization of the American Indian Series. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008, See especially pp. 140–49.
Taube, Karl A., William A. Saturno, and Heather Hurst. The Murals of San Bartolo, El Petén, Guatemala; Part 2: The West Wall. Ancient America, Vol. no. 10. Barnardsville, NC: Boundary End Archaeological Research Center, 2010.
Chinchilla Mazariegos, Oswaldo. Imágenes de la mitología Maya. Guatelmala City: Museo Popol Vuh, Guatemala City, Guatemala, 2011, See especially pp. 109–23 (written by Michael D. Coe).
Chinchilla Mazariegos, Oswaldo, James Doyle, and Joanne Pillsbury, eds. Lives of the Gods: Divinity in Maya Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2022.
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