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Grasshopper/Jaguar God Pectoral

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Grasshopper/Jaguar God Pectoral

300-600 CE
Precolumbian
2 1/8 x 4 1/2 in. (5.4 x 11.4 cm)

Unknown, Maya
Mexican or Guatemalan

Object Type: Stonework
Medium and Support: Green stone
Credit Line: R.T. Miller Fund
Accession Number: 1946.13
Location: Currently on view
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A pectoral is worn on an individual’s chest. The creature that adorns this pectoral has been identified as a grasshopper, a man, a jaguar god, or perhaps a combination of all three. Composite images that defy modern understanding are quite common in Ancient American art as embodiments of change or transformation. Rather than representing an actual animal, the composite creature was a representation or symbol of the wearer, or the characteristics the wearer wanted to possess.

It is unclear exactly what the wearer of this pectoral intended, but the characteristics of both animals hold potential for great power. Swarming grasshoppers (locusts) are incredibly destructive. To this day, they arrive on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico every four years and devour all the crops in the area. Jaguars are night hunters comfortable on land, in trees and in the water. Powerful shamans and kings throughout Mesoamerica chose the jaguar as their alter ego because of their size, strength and versatility.
[Gallery label text, 2009]

Provenance
Nierendorf Galleries, New York; purchased from them by the Gallery in 1946

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