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A Maya earthenware dwarf whistle figure

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All Items: Archives: Regional Art: Pre AD 1000: item # 1068289

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A Maya earthenware dwarf whistle figure
This achondroplastic male figure is shown with a regal, up-swept coiffure replete with jewelry and two wing-like elements on each side of his head. His short limbs and well-fed body have been accurately molded to reflect his medical condition, but his head and face are that of a normal, elite Maya individual. Deformities, especially those resulting from intermarriage of the ruling class, were often regarded as special attributes associated with lineage and dynasty, as evidenced in the well-known, 7th-8th century CE ruling lineage of Palenque. That dwarfs were particularly connected with the earth and the underworld in ancient times can be seen in the popularity of small pottery effigies, like this fine example, found buried by the hundreds at Jaina Island, coastal Campeche sites, and various other areas in the Maya world. The association of the underworld with dwarfs continues today among the living Maya. Dating CE 600-900, 4.25"H, in very fine condition but missing some feather-like appendages on the top of the head; the whistle support is intact and still sounds. Original remains of rare blue pigment and a yellow ochre on the figure; blue color on proper left 'wing' flange appears to be modern. Provenance: Mary Warburg, noted philanthropist, purchased from Mathias Komor, NYC, pre-1970.


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