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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Pre-Columbian Masterpieces : Mayan Royal Whistle
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Mayan Royal Whistle - PF.3101
Origin: Mexico (Jaina)
Circa: 600 AD to 900 AD
Dimensions: 5.5" (14.0cm) high x 5.25" (13.3cm) wide
Catalogue: V15
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: UAE
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When the lush green jungle drifted to sleep as the sun slowly closed its eye, the Mayans communicated with sound. Left without sight in the thick of darkness, the song of the whistle guided their way during great distances of fleet or fight. The tropical birds that flew in the sky and built nests in the jungle must have been a great source of inspiration for the Maya to create the whistle. The birds' beauty and song were considered sacred to the ancient Maya and their feathers were reserved only for the elite. The ancient man depicted on this whistle is wearing a feather headdress, which reveals his divine status and nobility. His broad forehead, monumental nose, "jaguar fang" teeth and high cheekbones are exemplary characteristics of the Maya divinity. Because the Maya culture was governed by fiercely conservative traditions, the physical appearance of the divinities as represented in Maya art remains remarkably consistent over one thousand years. Did the ritual songs of the whistle remain consistent, as well? We can only imagine. The black hair of the Mayans was dressed to accommodate a variety of headdresses such as the one shown on the whistle. Men of noble rank, such as the one depicted here, cut their bangs and side locks in a stepped pattern with the lock at the center of the forehead worn longer and often pulled through a jade or wooden ornament. A large jade bead necklace is worn around his neck and double jade bracelets encircle each wrist. Jade was exclusively worn by the aristocracy and symbolized fertility, abundance and power. Instead of the traditional intense look of a powerful ruler, this ruler has a joyful expression on his face, which makes this whistle exceptional. Symmetry and balance emphasized by the two snakes which follow the curve of his shoulders and hiss at the unseen audience along with the beauty mentioned above culminate into a grandiose masterpiece of symbolism and sacredness which remains unsurpassed by its contemporaries. - (PF.3101)


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