Maya Jaina Costumed Dancer Whistle
500 AD to 850 AD
An unusual Maya anthropomorphic vulture whistle from Jaina Island in Campeche, Mexico. A costumed dancer is depicted wearing a feather suit with a vulture mask. His arms are outstretched and showing movement as if he’s trying to fly. This is most likely a ceremonial representation of a dance.
This piece not only has a functioning whistle, but it also has rattles inside that produce a pleasant sound. It has remnants of white stucco as well as areas of Maya blue on the face. The back contains red pigment in a few spots. Beautiful root marks attest to its ancient age.
Vultures were important to the Maya. Not only were they associated with funeral rites and burials, but they were part of celestial and solar iconography.
Two similar Jaina vulture whistles are published in the book, “Maya, Treasures of an Ancient Civilization”.
Ex Robert Banks collection from Bethesda, Maryland. Acquired in the 1970s.
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