This beautiful youthful female represents one of the two principal female role models, typically identified as the Moon Goddess, sometimes referred to as Ixchel. Her companion is often an aged man representing her companion, the aged Sun God. The Moon Goddess was associated with the role of nurturer and mother, and also with licentious behavior, as suggested in the body language of these joined figures. The embracing yet counterpoised posture shown here may represent a dancing or 'ritual clowning', as Taube observed in his study of Jaina figures as part of a courtly narrative (Taube, 'Ritual Humor in Classic Maya Religion' in Hanks & Rice, eds., Word and Image in Maya Culture, 1989, cited in O'Neil, Engaging Ancient Maya Sculpture, 2012, p. 424).
The female is clothed in a closefitting long huipil pulled to the side by her upraised arm; her striated and cropped coiffure is upswept with a filleted turban secured with a large bow, jewelry including tassel earrings swinging with her movement, a cord necklace and large beads. She tilts her head back as her left hand presses to her chest, and the male's right hand rests on her shoulder. Her companion is minimally clothed in contrast to her, wearing a long sashed loincloth low on his hips and a tufted cape over the shoulders. His leg steps in front and against hers. The couple forms a mold-made whistle, with the heads modeled by hand to achieve the detailed expressions and elaborate headdress ornaments.
For embracing couple figures, see Pillsbury et al., eds., Ancient Maya Art, 2012, p. 420, pl. 79, for the figure at Dumbarton Oaks, Washington D.C., and p. 423, fig. 233 for a similar coupled figure at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
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