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Mayan Jaina Terracotta Figural Rattle

Pre-Columbian, Jaina / Campeche Mexico, Maya, Late Classic Period, ca. 600 to 850 CE. A mold-made, fascinating standing human figure, its body hollow to make a rattle that is still functional! The rattle is in the form of a standing priest with both hands raised to his shoulders. He wears a huge pectoral/necklace, a layered costume with geometric decoration, a headdress, and large earrings. Size: 4.4" W x 6.75" H (11.2 cm x 17.1 cm)

Jaina figures, from an island off the Yucatan peninsula, are noted for their lifelike faces and their immense detail. The clothing that this figure wears almost certainly copies the real clothing of a person in the Late Classic Maya period. These figures were produced in Campeche and brought to Jaina Island to be buried with the dead. Fascinatingly, the people around Jaina are the only people in southeastern Mesoamerica who put human figures into graves - everywhere else in the region, figures have only been found in domestic contexts. The use of human figures immediately calls to mind the earlier West Mexican cultures that had extensive figures made solely to be placed in their shaft tombs. The Spaniard Diego de Landa, who recorded details of Mayan life shortly after the Spanish Conquest, wrote that the artists who created pieces like this one lived lives of religious isolation and ritual, fasting and abstaining.

Condition: Intact with rattle still functional! A few tiny chips and nicks from surface commensurate with age. With some remaining white pigment.

Provenance: private New York, New York, USA collection

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