AN IMPORTANT MAYAN JADE REGAL BELT PENDANT
Early Classic, ca. A.D. 400-500
The ceremonial plaque of thin cross-section, having once formed part of a royal belt assemblage, both faces finely incised and filled with rich red cinnabar, one side a representation of a full-length profile portrait of a young Maya ruler, richly attired in the regalia associated with enthronement, standing on a pedestal-shaped throne which incorporates the ak'bal glyph denoting "darkness", his arms cradling the Double-Headed Serpent Bar with supernatural creatures issuing from the open mouths of the serpents, distinguished by dark spots on his body indicating the supernatural, as well as a reference to Hunahpu, one of the Hero Twins, smaller spots on his cheeks and nose and a whisker-like element at the corner of the mouth symbolic of his kinship with the jaguar, the feline associated with the night, wearing a jaguar skin skirt with beaded fringe, overlaid by a royal belt incorporating elaborate, paraphernalia including a mask surmounted by a skull, a reference to death, with three celt-shaped plaques (see detail), as the one described herewith, anklets and wristlets ornamented with more ak'bal signs, leatherwork sandals, complex headgear, a crucial component of this royal costume as is the belt assemblage, incorporating a ferocious skull, a bevy of jade beads and elements, a Jester God mask, the symbol of rulership, projecting from the top, with a coiled rope running along the side supporting a diminutive skull, a reference to the 'way', the spiritual, animal companion of an individual (rulers often had the jaguar as a 'way'), another rope extends from his belt down to the leg and supports a small figure of Chac, the Rain God, a graphically drawn text (verso), in two columns (read from top to bottom, and left to right), primarily stating the date, action and protagonist of the scene: the date in the Calendar Round opens the inscription (A1-A3), the tzolk'in (A1-big glyph) is 5 Chikchan the haab 12 Mak (A3), A2 and B2 refer again to the cycle of the Lords of the Night, the verb in A3 reads u ch'amwa interpreted as "to take, to grasp" but also "to receive", in fact, it shows a hand holding something, here a little ajaw "lord" head which generally refers to accession to power but can appear in other contexts as well. A4 and B4 seem to designate the object received (yuuk' sa? u kaywa?), maybe the celt itself, the shape of the object in A4b could represent a celt, the individual taking or receiving the object represents our ruler, possibly called Machaak (A5) identified by titles (B5-A6) which suggests that the lord portrayed was a subordinate of a ruler, in A8, a distance number of 9 days leading to a new calendar round date, nine days after 5 Chikchan 13 Mak should come 1 Hix 2 K'ank'in (B8-A9). The verb in B9 reads 'och ja', "he entered water", a metaphor for death, individuals at death entered the watery Underworld before being reborn in the after life and joining the sky, the deceased individual is our so-called Machaak, named in A10a, the text closes with the celebration of a period ending (A10b) falling on a day 6 Ajaw (B10), the date 5 Chikchan 13 Mak should then come after 188.8.131.52.0 and may correspond to the Long Count 184.108.40.206.5 (Dec. 23, 464). Machaak would then have died about thirty years after the 220.127.116.11.0 period ending celebration (the date inscribed on its pair, see Literature); of pale gray-green translucent stone, pierced at the top for suspension.
Height 9 1/8 in. (23 cm.)