Guatemalan Jade in Mayan Art

Mayan Green Jade Mask

See everything is a matter of perspectives and that’s the whole truthiness and nothing but the truthiness (thanks Manolo for the new word).

Let me explain.

The value of commodities like gold, diamonds and jade is mostly influenced by the conceptualization that the materials are rare and scarce. The Europeans conquistadors that came to Mesoamerica looking for gold where gold existed but was not valued and cherished as jade. Two peoples with two different perspective about what is precious and worthy. Oh, what a mental shock that must have been for the encounter of the two civilizations.

Keep this in mind when you enter Guatemala and your set logic doesn’t seem to work anymore. It may come handy to read the Culture Unshocked series written by Ana Flinder for the Revue Magazine.

This is the Jade introduction in Wikipedia:

Jade was a rare and valued material in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. The only source from which the various indigenous cultures, such as the Olmec and Maya, for example, could obtain jade was located in the Motagua River valley in Guatemala. Jade was largely an elite good, and was usually carved in a variety ways, whether serving as a medium upon which hieroglyphs were inscribed, or shaped into symbolic figurines. Generally, the material was highly symbolic, and it was often employed in the performance of ideological practices and rituals.

Today, Guatemala produces jadeite in a variety of colours, ranging from soft translucent lilac, blue, green, yellow, and black. It is also the source of new colours, including “rainbow jade” and the unique “Galactic Gold,” a black jadeite with natural incrustations of gold, silver and platinum. (… continue reading at Wikipedia)

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  • what a gorgeous mask. When I was shopping for my itty bitty jade earrings in Antigua, I couldn’t help but constantly yearn to own one of these!

  • Ale

    Great peice! Where did you take this pic?