Olmec. <em>Spoon with Incised Designs</em>, 800–500 B.C.E. Jade, red pigment, 5 x 1 3/16 x 5/16 in. (12.7 x 3 x 0.8 cm). Collection of Christopher B. Martin, Dana B. Martin and Catherine S. Martin, L73.15.1. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, L73.15.1_transp5629.jpg)

Spoon with Incised Designs


Medium: Jade, red pigment

Geograhical Locations:

Dates:800–500 B.C.E.

Dimensions: 5 x 1 3/16 x 5/16 in. (12.7 x 3 x 0.8 cm)



Accession Number: L73.15.1

Image: L73.15.1_transp5629.jpg,

Catalogue Description:
Carved jade spoon with incised designs filled with red pigment (probably cinnabar). The spoon's slim handle widens into a bowl and then narrows into a smaller concave extension. The bowl is incised with a face in profile with typical Olmec features including the thick, drooping lips. Two other abstract, eyeless profiles appear in front of and behind the main profile head suggesting a mask that has been cut away to reveal a human face. Behind the head, a hand-paw-wing motif represents an abbreviated version of the Olmec dragon. The three, lobed designs incised in concentric lines on either side of the bowl have been interpreted as jaguar fur. Based upon representations of clothing, ornaments and ceremonial paraphernalia on stone sculptures, spoon-like objects appear to have been used by high-status individuals as insignia and worn (when there are drill holes) as pectoral ornaments. These spoons may have also been used by shamans for the consumption of hallucinogens to induce visions.

Brooklyn Museum