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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Mayan Jade : Mayan Jade Celt
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Mayan Jade Celt - PF.4610
Origin: Guatemala
Circa: 500 AD to 900 AD
Dimensions: 6.5" (16.5cm) high
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Jade

Location: United States
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The Maya considered their kings to be of sacred origin. He was the earthly embodiment of the divine essence, around which the cosmos circled according to his will and command. In order to maintain and strengthen this belief, elaborate rituals were devised as a form of propaganda to convince the people their ruler was superhuman. Amazingly extravagant costumes were made to give this impression, and the Maya were masters at creating awe-inspiring ceremonies. Paintings on murals and ceramics reveal the very elaborate costumes the king and his nobles wore, with their brilliant feathers and glittering ritual objects. One of the most important and beautiful of these was the celt. Just as the king was considered to be invested with supernatural power, so too were the objects he wore. The celt was not only a symbol of wealth and prestige; it was seen as a conduit or instrument in which sacred power had accrued. The very lovely jade of this gorgeous celt emits a special radiance of warmth and light. It would have been worn hanging from the royal belt in a single or double row during ceremonies such as accession or bloodletting rites. It shows the king himself looking upwards to heaven, dressed in a fabulous costume like a wonderfully abstract design, which gives his body a sense of swirling. Carved with expert precision, then dusted with cinnabar for the brilliant red, the figure comes alive as if he is passing by in a great procession. And we, as viewers, are privileged to see him through the window of art. When holding this celt, caressing its smooth surface, feeling its seductive strength, it seems perfectly natural the ancient Maya should believe it contained magical powers. - (PF.4610)


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