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Figure: Gallery Label - Current

Author

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Date

2005-12-12

Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Each jade object made by the artists of the Olmec culture is a masterpiece of craftsmanship. Jade was hard to find, even harder to carve, and it was valued above all other materials by this ancient Mexican civilization. This figure depicts a were-jaguar, a supernatural being with both human and jaguar aspects. The were-jaguar was a powerful spirit who controlled rain and storms, as well as the growth of maize, the staple crop of the Olmec. This sculpture, used for ritual purposes, would have been carved for a member of the elite. The head is unusually large in proportion to the body, as it was believed to be the focus of spiritual force. The jaguar elements are most visible in the face, and include a short broad nose and a strongly down-turned mouth with heavy, feline lips.
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Type: Commentary, Gallery Label - Current
Source: Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Rights: Copyright Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Added to Site: November 21, 2009