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This is a picture of a replica of a Native American stone pendant, purchased at a museum.
The owner remembers being told that the pendant is supposed to be worn with the face upside-down.
If anyone has more information about this piece of jewelry, particularly the tribe of origin and the meaning
behind the design, please let us know. Thank you!
Answer #1: Effigy pendants are most associated with Mexican Indian
tribes, especially the Mayan tribes, but the one in your picture does not
look Mayan at all. To me, it looks more like a Woodlands style. What museum did you purchase
it at? Would you like me to publish the photo on our art identification blog, to
see if anyone there has additional ideas?
Follow-up: The museum is called Indian Steps
located in York County, Pennsylvania.
Answer #2: I was able to find some references to stone effigy pendants among Algonquian
tribes of New York and New Jersey, such as
To me, that looks pretty similar in style to the one you have, don't you think?
According to this book, these pendants were indeed hung upside-down
(probably so that they appeared right-side up to the wearer), and they may
have been meant to represent the nature deity Mesingw,
the Mask Spirit,
as were many other
mask/face designs among the Lenape, Munsee, and neighboring tribes. If so, then the
pendant would absolutely have been a positive symbol, since Mesingw was a
benevolent protector spirit. Some Northeastern tribes
do consider it sacrilegious for outsiders to view or handle their religious
artifacts, such as false face masks; however, since this is a replica, that would be
a non-issue with your pendant.
Thanks for the help! If anyone has more information about this pendant or the carvings on it,
please let me know. Thank you!
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