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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Mayan Sculptures : Jaina Style Mayan Terracotta Sculpture of a Seated Woman
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Jaina Style Mayan Terracotta Sculpture of a Seated Woman - DJ.1000
Origin: Jaina, Mexico
Circa: 600 AD to 900 AD
Dimensions: 8.5" (21.6cm) high
Collection: Pre Columbian
Medium: Terracotta

Location: United States
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Jaina, a small island necropolis located off the western coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, was actually raised above the waters of the Gulf of Mexico when the Maya carried tons of earth and rubble onto it. A part of burying the society elite on Jaina, ceramic figurines, frequently in the form of rattles and whistles, were placed in the hands of the dignitary being buried. The early burials had few figurines, and they were of high quality like this one. As the burial location gained in popularity, the figures were produced in greater quantity and their aesthetic quality declined. The subject matter of Jaina figurines is most often related to matters of fertility. The underworld too had a place in the imagery as the deceased made their way through it and, if the journey was successful, reemerged in the upper world.

The garments, headdress, earrings and necklace worn by this very special and relatively rare figure are beautifully simple and enhance our appreciation for the skill of the master craftsman. The astonishing artistry and beauty of this statuette come both from the dignity and serenity of the model but also from the craftsman’s skill in depicting it. The markings on the figures left cheek, the appearance of intense concentration, the open speaking mouth (showing the most intricate tiny teeth) and the raised left hand imply a holy-man uttering incantations on behalf of the beloved deceased. Repelling evil spirits and aiding the deceased’s journey to the heights of spiritual ecstasy. There is some wear to the upper right side and back of the Statuette and a piercing through the right shoulder that add to the intrigue and mystery surrounding the meaning and function of this piece.

It may be that the individual after which this item was modeled also passed away with time and this was one way in which this would be indicated. - (DJ.1000)


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