Deity Figure

Date: 3rd–6th century

Geography: Honduras, Mesoamerica, Copan, Santa Rita region

Culture: Maya

Medium: Jade (pyroxene jadeite)

Dimensions: H. 4 1/4 x W. 2 1/2 x D. 15/16 in. (10.8 x 6.4 x 2.3 cm)

Classification: Stone-Sculpture

Credit Line: The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979

Accession Number: 1979.206.1069


A number of small greenstone or jade figures associated with the Maya site of Copán in the Copán valley of western Honduras depict a low-relief figure with hands held to the chest in a distinctive manner, as seen here. The thumbs are visible on top of closed fists, a position that has been called "crab-clawed" and thought to indicate high or sacred status in the ancient city. A similar crab-clawed jade figure was excavated at Copán, where it was one item of a cache deposit that included flints chipped into extraordinary shapes, a brilliant orange spiny-oyster shell, and the sharp-edged spines of stingrays, all elements associated with warriors. This seated, cross-legged figure is reputed to come from the vicinity of Copán itself. Although of appropriate size for wearing about the neck, it is not perforated for suspension.