Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Mirror Bearer, 6th century
    Mexico or Guatemala; Maya
    Wood, hematite; H. 14 1/8 in. (35.9 cm)
    The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 (1979.206.1063)

    Royal in its posture, this beautifully dressed figure probably once displayed a mirror between its knees and raised arms. The mirror would have been made of sections of iron pyrite polished to a dark sheen. When set into a wood or stone frame, the pyrite sections provided a reflective surface, the chief use of which was divinatory. Mirrors were precious objects, and one big enough and elegant enough to be held by this imposing figure was as significant as its holder. The mirror-bearer would have presented the mirror only to powerful Maya personages for its auguries.

    The mirror-bearer is sumptuously dressed in a kilt, or hip cloth, with a patterned band and fringe along the bottom. The kilt is kept in place by a wide belt of a different pattern, carefully tied at the waist. A long sash of similar decoration is worn across the shoulders and tied at each side. The jewelry consists of grand ear ornaments that begin with spools in the ears and cascade down to the shoulders, ending in long-nosed profile heads. On the chest a small masklike ornament is held aloft by the mirror-bearer's joined hands.

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    On view: Gallery 358
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  • Mirror Bearer, 6th century
    Mexico or Guatemala; Maya
    Wood, hematite; H. 14 1/8 in. (35.9 cm)
    The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 (1979.206.1063)


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