Pair of Earflare Frontals

Date: 3rd–6th century

Geography: Guatemala, Mesoamerica

Culture: Maya

Medium: Jade (jadeite)

Dimensions: H. 2 in. (5.1 cm)

Classifications: Stone-Ornaments, Jade

Credit Line: Gift of Arthur M. Bullowa, 1989

Accession Number: 1989.314.15a, b


Depictions of elite members of society dressed in costumes covered with jade ornament, which was both costly and precious, frequently occur in Maya art. This pair of jade earflare frontals, each bearing a motif of flower petals or leaves, are of a type pictured on both men and women, where mounted on shafts they extend through holes in the earlobes. Similar petal-shaped ornaments are depicted as headdress elements and incorporated into hairstyles of Maya nobles. The jade out of which these ornaments was carved is a color reminiscent of the hues of water and plant life, entities of great significance to the Maya as an agricultural people. The association with agriculture is reinforced by the nature-derived motif on the ornaments.