standing figure of green jade; short legs and short arms; frowning expression; wide nose; large incised blank eyes; pierced ears

Figure, 900-300 BCE

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The Ethel Morrison Van Derlip Fundexpand_more  2004.26

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Each jade object made by the artists of the Olmec culture is a masterpiece of craftsmanship. Jade was hard to find, even harder to carve, and it was valued above all other materials by this ancient Mexican civilization. This figure depicts a were-jaguar, a supernatural being with both human and jaguar aspects. The were-jaguar was a powerful spirit who controlled rain and storms, as well as the growth of maize, the staple crop of the Olmec. This sculpture, used for ritual purposes, would have been carved for a member of the elite. The head is unusually large in proportion to the body, as it was believed to be the focus of spiritual force. The jaguar elements are most visible in the face, and include a short broad nose and a strongly down-turned mouth with heavy, feline lips.

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Accession Number
2004.26
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

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standing figure of green jade; short legs and short arms; frowning expression; wide nose; large incised blank eyes; pierced ears