Jades of Belize

The National Institute Of Culture and History, though the Museum of Belize and the Institute of Archaeology, is proud to present the exhibition “Jades of Belize”.

To the ancient Maya jade was the most prized of all stones. Its green translucent colour was associated with such precious substance like water, corn and the sacred Ceiba tree. In essence, the green colour of jade embodied all things that nourished life on earth. Jades were also treasured by the Maya elite and desired by members of all social classes. It was used as jewellery, as a mode of exchange and as offerings in tombs and buildings. At the death of the important Maya lords it was customary to rub their faces with jade and to place a small bead in the mouth of the deceased. Beside its close relationship to Maya concepts of fertility, jade was therefore equally imbued with ritual, social, and spiritual significance.


Today jade is universally classified as a gem variety of jadeite and nephrite. It is found in geological deposits in places like Burma, Japan, India, Tanzania, Finland, Siberia, Brazil, Canada and Guatemala. It is prized internally for its hardness, glassy lustre, and rich translucent tones that range from milky white to brilliant green. The toughness of jades is remarkable and it was used by many ancient civilizations to make a variety of objects including weapons, tools, ornaments and jewellery. Here in Mesoamerican jade has been used from as early as the second millennia before Christ (2000B.C.)Today, jades continues to be mined in the Maya area and it is still being used to make some of the most beautiful jewellery produced in Central America.

The Jades of Belize exhibition is the first of its kind presented in our country. It brings together many of the most beautiful and exquisite prehistoric mater pieces discovered at sites from across Belize. The exhibits contains funerary jade masks  from Caracol, Santa Rita and Cahal Pech, pendants and necklaces from Lamanai and Pusilha, and pectorals, ear flares and countless other objects from several of our premier archaeological sites. The exhibition is truly a celebration of the past cultural achievements of our nation.  It’s time to find the great knowledge from here.