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Maya “Dance of the Deer”

The Deer Dance ritual symbolized the important relationship between humans and the balance of nature. This depiction is of a priest or medicine man (culandero) preparing a participant (un iluminador) for the customary dance. Jaina's sculptor captures beautiful details in this duet. The short stature of this noble has immediate attraction to his detailed upper extremity. The characteristics and detailing of the oblique eyes, hooked nose and receding hairline with his intentionally deformed skull made the forehead seem to join and follow the same line as his nose (oblique tabular deformation). Hair pulled back and made into a traditional twisted hairdo with serpent head finials on both sides. Wears customary ear, collar and shoulder ornamentations. The dancer's cheeked face with eyes lowered is being fitted with an elaborate costume dear head as the headdress. Traces of Maya blue pigment are still visible. He also wears a sumptuous necklace and larger ear flares. A few chips and reattached pieces. Otherwise in excellent condition.

Late Classic, ca. 550-950, A.D. from Jaina, Campeche. Measures 9.75” / 24.76 cm in height.

Ex. Escolar Collection, Beverly Hills, CA

Similar example is in the Robert Woods Bliss Collection exhibited in the Philip Johnson Pavilion

- Dumbarton Oaks

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