Golden art from the ancient Americas

 

 

Bird-Man Pectoral,A.D. 900–1600--Cauca

Golden Bird-Man Pectoral

A.D. 900–1600, Cauca

 

 

‘Golden Kingdoms —  Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas’ – The Met, NY

This exhibition is running till Sunday, 28th May

 

The artists of the Ancient Americas crafted sacred objects from precious metals and stones purely for ritual and regalia rather then tools, weapons, or currency. Their creations were instrumental in expressing political power, religious beliefs and social status. Gold and silver was used in abundance and given elevated regard but other precious materials like jade and turquoise were also held in high esteem for their colour and luminescence. Associated with fire, time, royal power, and political succession, turquoise was an exotic material favoured by Mexica lapidary artists. This precious imported mineral was used to make the regalia of select Nahua deities and Mexica rulers. Thousands of turquoise objects have been found at the Templo Mayor.
Most of the objects displayed in this exhibition carried a sacred power and had symbolically charged iconography while being passed down over numerous generations from 2500 BC to European colonisation in the 16th Century.

 

 

Ear Ornament with Deer in turquoise and gold-,AD-640-680--Moche

Moche Ear Ornament with a Deer in turquoise and gold

AD 640-680

 

 

Standing Ruler ceramic Figurine-,AD-600-800--Maya

Standing Mayan Ruler ceramic figurine

AD-600-800

This ceramic figurine shows  the elaborate and burdensome regalia of Maya rulers. The belt ornament in the shape of a head with three celts is similar to the set of plaques on view here. Maya blue pigment-a combination of indigo and palygorskite, a type of clay-covers the figurine, evoking the green of the quetzal feathers in the headdress and of the jade pectorals, earrings, and belt ornaments. Holding a shield in his left hand, this ruler may be celebrating a military victory or reenacting a triumph.

 

 

Green Warrior Plaque,A.D. 700–1100

Green Jade Warrior holding a cacao tree Plaque

A.D. 700–1100

 

 

A.D. 600–800.---Mayan vessek with Palace Scene

A.D. 600–800—Mayan vessel with Palace Scene

 

 

Ceramic vessel in the Shape of a Seated Figure,A.D

Ceramic stirrup vessel in the shape of a Seated Figure

A.D. 525–550—Moche

 

Jade Olmec Maize God Mask,900–400-B.C

Jade Olmec Maize God Mask

900–400-B.C

 

 

Ceramic Tripod Bowl Containing Copal and Jadeite Beads

Ceramic Tripod Censer Containing Copal and Jadeite Beads

A.D. 1300–1450–Maya

Remarkably well preserved by the oxygen-deprived environment at the bottom of the Sacred Cenote, this ceramic bowl was found filled with twenty pellets of copal—a tree resin used as a ritual incense—and five jadeite beads of various shapes. In this distinctive testament of Maya devotion, the materials symbolically unite the clay of the earth, the sap of the tree, and the green of maize.

 

 

Tonatiuh Aztec Sun God Effigy Vessel-,AD-1350-1521--Mexica

Tonatiuh Aztec Sun God Effigy Vessel

AD-1350-1521–Mexica

 

 

 

Stela with Queen IMutal Ahaw-,AD-761--Maya

Stela with ‘Queen IMutal Ahaw’

AD-761–Maya

Maya dynasts often revered their wives and mothers as vital players in their claims to the throne by featuring them as important subjects for commissioned artworks. This stela, from an unknown site in the Usumacinta River region, is a masterful depiction of such a royal woman. The inscription refers to her as Ix Mutal Ahaw, or “royal lady of Mutal.” Mutal refers to the powerful dynasty at the city of Tikal, Guatemala, or a related lineage at the site of Dos Pilas. She holds a ceremonial bar from which a supernatural serpent emerges. A version of the Maya God of Lightning, K’awiil, appears from the serpent’s mouth. This image of a queen in her regalia of resplendent quetzal feathers and jade ornaments underscores the central role of women in conjuring deities.

 

 

Gold Spider Necklace Beads-,AD-300-390---Moche

Gold Spider Necklace Beads

AD-300-390—Moche

 

Seated Female Figure with Mirror Disk-,700-600-BC---Olmec

Seated Olmec Female Figure with Mirror Disk

700-600-BC

 

Mayan Plumed Serpent-and Chac Mool sculptures--A.D. 800–1250 Maya

Mayan Plumed Serpent and Chac Mool sculpture

A.D. 800–1250

 

 

Golden Scepter,A.D.-900–1300--Lambayeque

Golden Lambayeque Scepter

A.D 900–1300

 

 

Stirrup Vessel with inlays Representing a Mythological Animal---200-400-AD-Moche

Stirrup Vessel with inlays representing a Mythological Animal

200-400AD — Moche

 

 

Veraguas-Chiriquí Bell with Owl at Top,A.D. 900–1521

Gold Metal bell with Owl at Top

A.D. 900–1521 – Veraguas-Chiriquí

Bells constitute one of the largest classes of metal objects deposited in the Sacred Cenote. Likely attached to clothing, they attest to the auditory aspects of ritual practices at Chichen Itza and other sacred centers. These cast gold bells and pendants were produced in the Veraguas-Chiriquí region of ancient Costa Rica and Panama.

 

 

Portrait stirrup Vessel-,AD-400-650---Moche

Head portrait stirrup Vessel

AD 400-650—Moche

 

Mayan jade plaque showing a Seated King and Palace Attendant,A.D. 600–800--Maya

Mayan jade plaque showing  Seated King and Palace Attendant,

A.D. 600–800

 

 

Gold Nose Ornament-,AD-525-550--Moche

Moche Gold Nose Ornament

AD 525-550

 

 

Mayan shell plaque

A.D. 600–900

This Classic Maya–style shell pendant, located around a thousand miles from where it was made, depicts a seated ruler wearing jade jewelry with elaborate headdress on one side and diagonal  incised Maya glyphs on the other. Evidence of reuse suggests that it was an important heirloom.

 

Pectoral-,600-BC-AD-400---Tolita Tomaco

Gold pectoral ornament 

600-BC-AD-400—Tolita Tomaco

 

 

Nose-Ornament,ca.-A.D

Moche Nose Ornament

ca. A.D. 400

 

,A.D. 900–1200 - Mayan Mosaic Disk with Jade

Eight section Mayan Mosaic Disk with Jade

A.D. 900–1200

 The sparkling blue-green turquoise mineral sets off four pyrite serpents, symbols of royal power. A pyrite mirror, now lost, once graced the center, obscuring the two perforations used to attach the disk to a garment. This is one of two disks found in an offering in one of the substructures of the Castillo, the central pyramid platform at Chichen Itza, which was built over a cenote. This represented a portal medium similar to the 8 sided Chinese Ba Qua and the Egyptian Magic Square.

 

 

Gold Pectoral-,100-BC-AD-800-Calima-Yotoco

Gold Relief figure Pectoral

100 BC to AD 800 – Calima Yotoco

 

 

Mask-of-the-Red-Queen

The funeral assemblage of Palenque’s Lady Tz’akbu Ajaw, nicknamed the Red Queen because it was found covered in cinnabar, is one of the richest known burials of a female Mayan ruler

AD-672

 

 

Vessel in the Shape of a Crested Animal,A.D. 525–550

Vessel in the Shape of a Crested Animal

A.D. 525–550

 

 

Olmec Mask,ca.-800-B.C.

Olmec Mask, ca. 800-B.C.

This mask was excavated at the Templo Mayor, the sacred center of the Aztec Empire, now under modern Mexico City

Located at  Museo del Templo Mayor, Secretaria de Cultura—INAH, Mexico City

 

 

Serpent Labret with Articulated Tongue,A.D. 1300–1521

Gold Serpent Labret with Articulated Tongue

Cleverly crafted gold serpent ready to strike, this labret (lip plug) was ingeniously cast as two separate pieces, so that the movable bifurcated tongue could be retracted or allowed to swing from side to side as the wearer moved.

 

 

Intricate Mosaic Mask of turquoise, wood, mother-of-pearl, shell

A.D. 1200–1521, probably Mixtec

 

 

Lime-Dipper-with-Anthropomorphic-Finial-,100-BC-AD-800--Calima-Yotoco

Golden Lime Dipper with Anthropomorphic Finial

100 BC-AD 800 — Calima Yotoco

 

 

Lime Container in the Shape of a Jaguar,100 B.C.–A.D. 800---Calima Yotoco

Lime Container in the Shape of a Jaguar

100 B.C.A.D. 800 — Calima Yotoco

 

 

Green Jade-Plaque,A.D.-700‒900--Maya

Mayan Green Jade Plaque

A.D. 700‒900

Jade plaques and pendants were heated before they were tossed into the Sacred Cenote, causing them to shatter when they entered the cold water. This jade plaque features representations of rulers wearing zoomorphic headdresses, ear flares, and beaded necklaces or pectorals.

 

 

Terracotta Libation Vessel with Five Representations of Spondylus Shells,A.D. 1450–1532---Inca

Inca Libation Vessel with Five Representations of Spondylus Shells

A.D. 1450–1532

 

 

Gold Helmet-,AD-700-900-Cocle

Cocle Gold Helmet with abstract detail

AD 700-900

 

 

Mayan Hu'unal Headdress Ornament-,AD-600-800

Mayan Hu’unal Headdress Ornament

AD-600-800

 

 

Gold Octopus Frontlet,A.D. 300–600 - Moche

Gold Octopus Frontlet

A.D. 300–600 – Moche

 

 

 

Hu'unal Headdress Ornament,A.D. 700–800--Maya

Maya Hu’unal Headdress Jade Ornament

A.D. 700–800

 

 

Golden Kingdoms Luxury Arts in the Ancient Americas-Met

Golden Kingdoms Luxury Arts in the Ancient Americas

Met

 

 

Gold Plaque,A.D. 700–900 -- Cocle

Gold Plaque,A.D. 700–900 — Cocle

 

 

A.D. 500–900---Tiwayaku or Wari Hat

Woven Four Cornered Hat

A.D. 500–900—Tiwayaku or Wari

 

 

 

Funerary Mask ,10th-12th century Lambayeque

 Lambayeque Funerary Mask

10th-12th century

 

 

Female Figure-,AD-1200-1521---Huastec

Huastec Terracotta Female Figure

AD-1200-1521

 

Figurine in the Shape of a Dignitary,A.D. 600–1000--Wari

Wari Figurine in the Shape of a Dignitary

A.D. 600–1000

 

Mayan Figure-with-Bird-Mask,A.D. 550–900

Seated Mayan Figure with Bird Mask

A.D. 550–900

As part of their royal duties, ancient Maya kings and queens would impersonate avian deities during masked performances. Found at the center of an altar in a tomb, this figurine portrays a ruler seated on a blue-green throne wearing a bird mask; the hooked beak recalls that of a raptor, and finely wrought details represent jade ornaments and luxury textiles.

 

 

Double-Walled Beaker with Mythological Scenes,A.D. 900–1375--Lambayeque

Lambayeque Double-Walled Beaker with Mythological Scenes

Peru A.D. 900–1375

 

 

Crown of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, known as the Crown of the Andes,Ca. 1660 (diadem) and ca. 1770 (arches) Colombian-Popayan

Crown of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, known as the Crown of the Andes,Ca. 1660 (diadem) and ca. 1770 (arches)

Colombian/Popayan

 

 

Mayan Collar-and-Ik'-Pectoral AD-660–750

Mayan Collar and Ik’ Pectoral

AD-660–750

 

 

Chimu Collar,-AD-1000–1470

Chimu Collar

AD-1000–1470

 

 

Ceremonial Vessel-,AD-500-700----Moche

Moche Ceremonial Vessel

AD 500-700

 

Ceremonial jade Axe-(Kunz-Ax),1000–400-B.C

Ceremonial jade axe – (Kunz)

1000–400-B.C

 

 

Chac-Mool-,AD-800-1250-Maya

Chac Mool sculpture

AD 800-1250, Maya

Sculptures of this type, featuring a reclining male figure holding a bowl on his torso, were given the invented name Chac Mool by nineteenth-century explorers during an archaeological expedition to Chichen Itza. The figure is adorned with a headdress, earflares, bracelets, and anklets, all likely depicted as if they were made of jade. The bowl served as a receptacle for sacrificial liquids and burnt offerings and may have been symbolic of the circular cenotes.

 

 

 

 

 

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