About this artwork
Figures and jewelry made of spondylus (spiny oyster) shell developed as a specialization in what are today the Mexican states of Colima and Jalisco. Like greenstone, jade, and colorful feathers, this bright orange shell was a luxury item sought by maritime merchants from Ecuador and Central America, who found it in warm Pacific waters as far north as the West Mexican coast. As emblems of authority and status, exotic materials were displayed by rulers during ceremonial events. Spondylus-shell jewelry carved with symbolic designs found in West Mexican tombs indicates the high esteem in which this valued material was held.
- Western Mexico
- 200 BCE–200 CE
- approx. l. 50.8 cm (20 in.)
- Maurice D. Galleher Endowment