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Jaina Figurines: The Survey, Characterization of Materials, and Treatment of Figures from the Fowler Museum Collection


The ancient Maya civilization, inhabiting a territory that spanned through the Yucat�n peninsula, Guatemala, Belize, and parts of Honduras and El Salvador, for over three millennia is responsible for great artistic and architectural achievements. Their legacy includes the production of ceramic figurines, some of the most famous being those known as Jaina figurines, and the invention of a blue pigment called Maya blue. The aim of this study was to view and organize a full holding of Jaina figurines within a museum collection while assessing their condition, evaluate the potential of non-invasive analytical techniques, and provide examples of treatment types that are required by the current condition of figurines in the collection. Using x-ray fluorescence (XRF), Ultraviolet/Visible/Near Infrared reflectance spectroscopy (UV/Vis/NIR) and x-ray diffraction (XRD), analysis was conducted on the clay body and pigments utilized in the manufacture of 92 Jaina figurines from the Fowler Museum collection. Treatment protocols were also established based on the needs of the figurines studied in order to facilitate the expedient stabilization of the collection.

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