Deity Figure, 3rd–6th century. Honduras; Maya. Jade (jadeite), cinnabar; H. 4 1/4 in. (10.8 cm). The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979 (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.