About the Art

Mirror Bearer, Mayan, 6th Century

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Royal in its posture, this beautifully dressed figure probably once displayed a mirror between its knees and raised arms. The mirror would have been made of sections of iron pyrite polished to a dark sheen. When set into a wood or stone frame, the pyrite sections provided a reflective surface, the chief use of which was divinatory. Mirrors were precious objects, and one big enough and elegant enough to be held by this imposing figure was as significant as its holder. The mirror-bearer would have presented the mirror only to powerful Maya personages for its auguries.