Earflare Set

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

About the work

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In Maya cosmology, the Ceiba tree is the tree of life, connecting the earthly plane to the heavens and the underworld. The Ceiba is the axis from which the four cardinal directions radiate. Mayans represented this cosmic vision in their art and ornamentation. These ear flares, or "nacochtlis," are impressed with a cruciform pattern. The holes in the centers would have been filled with sticks or beads to hold them in place.Ancient Maya people believed bodily orifices were portals to the spiritual realms. Their glyph for death depicts a snake passing through an ear flare. Therefore, decorating these areas with sacred materials like jade facilitated their connection with the spiritual world.

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