Maya, Early Classic period, 400-700 AD
Height: 2 ½ inches
Provenance: Exhibited in The Guennol Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, November 6, 1969 – January 4, 1970, no. 91.
Published: The Guennol Collection, Vol. II, p. 128


Carved from striking green jade this turkey head pendant shows the incredible skill of the artist in carving in the round. The strong beak, furrowed brow, and wrinkled skin lends stone a life like appearance. Like many Mayan carvings this turkey head has eyes the shape of coffee beans, a hallmark of the culture’s sculptures. This particular carving is likely to have been based on a female turkey given the size of the snood (the fleshy caruncle above the nose) which happens, in this case, to double as the drill hole of the pendant at which a thong or necklace would have been strung through. The wild turkey was certainly a part of the Mayan diet, and quite possibly also served as a sacrificial animal during religious rites, some of these may have involved sprinkling of the turkey’s blood.