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Carved Plaque

Arts of the Americas

On View: Arts of the Americas Galleries, 5th Floor
CULTURE Olmec
MEDIUM Jadeite
  • Place Made: Mexico
  • DATES 800-500 B.C.E.
    PERIOD Preclassic Period or Middle Formative
    DIMENSIONS 3 3/16 x 1 1/2 x 1/4 in. (7.8 x 3.8 x 0.6 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Arts of the Americas Galleries, 5th Floor
    ACCESSION NUMBER L73.15.2
    CREDIT LINE Collection of Christopher B. Martin
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION 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). Brooklyn Museum, Collection of Christopher B. Martin, L73.15.2. Creative Commons-BY
    IMAGE overall, L73.15.2_transpc002.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION 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. Since there are no drill holes, it was probably not attached to a garment or headdress but was more likely placed in a burial as a ritual object. 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 Vera Cruz 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, however, since there are no holes to facilitate attachment, this plaque was more likely used as a ritual burial object. Precious jade used as a medium to depict a corn stalk suggests that corn, and its attendant symbolism, was associated with the ruling elite.
    RECORD COMPLETENESS Good (74%)
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