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Pendant in the Form of the Sun God

Less than two inches tall, but monumental in its presence and complex in its significance, this beautiful example of Maya lapidary work depicts K’inich Ajaw, Sun-Eyed Lord, the Maya sun god. Carved of jadeite, a material considered most valuable by Pre-Columbian peoples, and depicting a deity from the complex Maya pantheon, the pendant was most likely part of a necklace—perhaps the central element in a string of jade beads—or worn hanging from a belt. Maya men and women wore jewelry made from a variety of materials, but pieces carved from jadeite were especially favored by priests and royalty for the prestige and for the life-affirming symbolism associated with the material.

Maya culture, Petén (?), Guatemala
Pendant in the Form of the Sun God
Late Classic period, 600–900
Jadeite
H. 1 ¾ in. (4.4 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection, 77.91