World Ceramics: Key Ideas

Yucatán and Petén lowlands (Mexico)
Island of Jaina (Maya)
Whistle in the Form of a Dignitary
A.D. 600-900
Ceramic and pigment
7-1/2 inches high, 3-1/4 inches wide, 2 inches deep
The John R. Van Derlip Fund

  • This dignitary figure is hollow and perforated on the back. It can be blown like a whistle and therefore functions as a musical instrument.

  • The whistle comes from the island of Jaina (HY-nah), off the Gulf Coast of Mexico. The ancient Maya placed such figurines in graves with the bodies of rulers and noble families.
  • Artists made some parts of the figurines in molds and then EMBELLISHED them by adding hand-modeled facial features, headdresses, clothing, and accessories.
  • The figure can be identified as a man of importance based on his proud, dignified bearing, as well as his hairdo, headdress and clothing.

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    Key ideas.
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