Today the National Institute of Culture and History, NICH and the Museum
of Belize launched the catalogue Jades of Belize. The colourful forty page book
chronicles the discovery of jades in Belize and why to the ancient Maya, jade
was the most prized of all stones. The Director of Archaeology and the book’s
co-author Dr. Jaime Awe explains.
Dr. Jaime Awe, Director of Archaeology
“I think that the reason why jade is so precious to the Maya, not
just today but even in the past is because corn was so central to ancient Maya
culture. The Maya believed they were the people made from corn. What is the
color of corn? Green. The Maya sacred three of life, the ceiba. What is the
color of the ceiba? Green. Many of our rivers, life giving waters that nourish
the Maya, often what color do our rivers look like? It is green. So to the Maya
then green really symbolized nature, life, fertility, and when they utilized
jade, it embodied all the things that were most important to them.
When we discover jade in tombs and burials, what it tells us is that because it symbolically was so important to them, it was also used as a symbol of authority.
Who had the most jade? The rulers. And one of the main job of rulers was to
act as intermediary between their people and the Gods. They are the ones that
ask the Gods to make the rains come, the plants grow, and that there is agricultural
fertility so the people will eat and survive.
The book that we are launching today, which is called, ‘Jades of
Belize,’ brings together bits and pieces of all this information. It provides
a knowledge about the same question that we just addressed, why was jade so
important to the Maya. It also provides descriptions for the jade objects that
have been found in our country and also the highlight is obviously the Jade
Head. There is no Belizean that does not about the Altun Ha Jade Head. This
booklet not only provides information about the head itself but also where it
was found, its location, beautiful foldout representation of the tomb where
it was discovered. So I certainly encourage people to go and buy it.”
Jades of Belize is available at the Museum of Belize for $25.