Property from an American Private Collection
MAYA SHELL PENDANT OF A YOUNG LORD LATE CLASSIC, CIRCA AD 550 - 950
Length: 3 ⅞ in (9.8 cm)
Overall very good but there is resome restoration on the proper Left end of the pendant.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
Jay C. Leff, Uniontown, Pennsylvania, acquired prior to 1959
Sotheby's, New York, Important African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art: Property of Jay C. Leff, October 10, 1975, lot 492
Merrin Gallery, New York
American Private Collection, acquired from the above in 1989
Walter A. Fairservis, Jr., Exotic Art from Ancient and Primitive Civilizations: Collection of Jay C. Leff, Pittsburgh, 1959, p. 73, cat. no. 466
Elizabeth Kennedy Easby, Ancient Art of Latin America from the Collection of Jay C. Leff, New York, 1966, p. 101, cat. no. 450
Hasso von Winning, Pre-Columbian Art of Mexico and Central America, New York, 1968, p. 331, fig. 483
Katheryn M. Linduff, Ancient Art of Middle America: Selections from the Jay C. Leff Collection, Huntington, 1974, cat. no. 136
Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Exotic Art from Ancient and Primitive Civilizations: Collection of Jay C. Leff, October 15, 1959 - January 3, 1960
The Brooklyn Museum, Ancient Art of Latin America from the Collection of Jay C. Leff, November 22, 1966 - March 5, 1967
The Huntington Galleries, West Virginia, Ancient Art of Middle America: Selections from the Jay C. Leff Collection, February 17-June 9, 1974
Shell ornaments were a vital part of the elaborate repertory of Maya luxury goods and jewelry paraphernalia. Shells represented fertility, water and the abundance of life from the underworld. Exotic marine shells such as the Spondylus princeps of this pendant were obtained by specialized divers and transported, often from great distances, before reaching the workshops of craftsmen adept at working this relatively delicate medium.
On this pendant, the carved and incised convex section of shell takes the familiar form of the cartouche frame to portray the bust of a young lord within the body of the xoc fish monster, a mythical aquatic creature seen on polychrome vases and other shell ornaments. The lord wears a soft turban with facial details carefully incised, his eye and the fish head before him were each once inlaid with tiny jade or shell beads to further highlight their features.
For similar shell ornaments, see Goldstein and Suárez Diez, Conchas Precolombinas: Mesoamerican Art Created from Seashells, Long Island, 1997, p. 77, figs. 165 and 167, the latter the pendant of a lord on a fish monster in the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collections, Washington, D.C. (PC.B.543)