Notes: 64 / 2 years ago
Effigy bloodletter/penis perforator in the form of a sting-ray spine, with three knots
Maya kings let blood from various body parts, including genitalia, tongues, earlobes, as a form of penance. This small carving in apple-green jade, with cinnabar filling its incisions, represents one of the most common elements used to pierce the body – a stingray spine. The short incisions along its lateral edges denote the serrated edge of the stingray spine, which would have caught and tore the skin as it was passed through the body. The three tied bands depicted at the center of the carving are a common symbolic reference to sacrifice among the Maya, reiterating the function of the spine. The smooth, dull edges of this jade version suggest it was probably not used as a bloodletting lancet, but instead served as a precious effigy of such an implement, possibly produced to be interred with a deceased king.
Princeton University Art Museum