Description The Olmecs were among the world's finest carvers of jadeite, a very hard stone that they worked without the advantage of metal tools. The remarkable thinness of this tiny mask emphasizes the stunning translucency of the blue-green mineral. Worn as body adornment, the pendant renders the typical Olmec-style face with wide, flat nose and down-turned mouth recalling a jaguar's snarl. This combination of human and animal features is an Olmec artistic convention for depicting supernatural beings. As the portrayal of a spirit being or god, the pendant would imply the wearer's connection to the supernatural. The high quality of the jadeite and its exceptionally fine carving indicate the wearer's high status.
- Exploring Art of the Ancient Americas: The John Bourne Collection Gift. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville. 2012-2013.
Provenance Throckmorton Fine Art, New York [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; John G. Bourne, 1990s, by purchase; by bequest to Walters Art Museum, 2017.
Credit Bequest of John G. Bourne, 2017
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