Arts of the Americas
On View: Arts of the Americas Galleries, 5th Floor
Preclassic Period or Middle Formative
3 3/16 x 1 1/2 x 1/4 in. (7.8 x 3.8 x 0.6 cm) (show scale)
Collection of Christopher B. Martin
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Olmec. Carved Plaque, 800-500 B.C.E. Jadeite, 3 3/16 x 1 1/2 x 1/4 in. (7.8 x 3.8 x 0.6 cm). Collection of Christopher B. Martin, L73.15.2. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, L73.15.2_transpc002.jpg)
overall, L73.15.2_transpc002.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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Carved jadeite plaque, trapezoidal in form and crowned at the top with a triangle on the right and curved scroll on the left; parallel lines below are carved in relief and there is a small, round indentation near the top. This object has been identified with headdress ornaments depicted on incised celts, and the form has been interpreted as a corn symbol. There are drill holes indicating that it was probably attached to a headdress.
Text by GdeH 9/2011:
During the time of the Olmec civilization (800-500 B.C.E.), the first maize imagery appears in the tropical lowlands of south-central Mexico in what are today’s states of Veracruz and Tabasco. This Olmec jade amuletic plaque is carved in the shape of what is believed to be a corn symbol. Images carved on ancient Olmec celts show plaques such as this worn in headdress ornaments, a function confirmed by the drill holes on the back and sides to facilitate attachment. Precious jade used as a medium to depict a corn stalk suggests that corn, and its attendant symbolism, was associated with the ruling elite.
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