People of the Jaguar

Incised shell

This shell has been cut, painted with a red pigment, and incised with the image of a nobleman. His headdress represents the sacred quetzal bird, symbol of royalty and highly valued for its long, brilliant green feathers. Shells were fashioned into jewellery, such as necklaces, pendants, and earrings, and used to decorate clothing and ritual regalia. A stylized shell was the symbol for zero in Maya mathematics.

Spondylus (thorny oyster) shell
Veracruz, Mexico
Modern reproduction in the Classic Maya style