Dwarfs were associated with magical qualities connected to the caves and underworld powers. Dwarfs were respected members of the Maya court, shown on painted pottery in important dance ceremonies with the ruler performing as the Maize God. Dwarfs are depicted with the posture and gesture seen on this finely carved shell. The thick creamy section shows the pot-bellied jester looking backward with one hand raised and the other cupped in the front. His head is finely incised with his elongated ear, shaven coiffure and a thin cord around his neck. The deep groove along the belly and leg may have been inlaid to define a loincloth sash.
For images of the attendant dwarfs on polychrome ceramics, see www.mayavase.com, K517, K633 and K4989.