Pre-Columbian, Kaminaljuyu (Kaminal Juyu), Guatemala, Postclassic Maya Period, ca. 1000 to 1200 CE. This is a carved basalt monkey; he is seated against what looks like a palm trunk, with his tail curled up behind him, extending above his head and ending in a charming coil. The monkey has bracelets and anklets that give him an almost-human appearance, and a decidedly simian face, with wide eyes and mouth open in a startled Oh!. He also has large ears; his face is recessed, suggesting the dark fur/light fur contrast on the faces and heads of common Central American species like the Squirrel Monkey or possibly the Capuchin. Maya artisans used obsidian chisels, mallets and hammers made of flint and wood, and obsidian knives to create their sculptures. The use of basalt places this carving to the Maya uplands (lowlands carved in limestone); the three-dimensional carving in the round places it to the Postclassic period. The Spaniards wrote of the Aztecs believing that stone quarried to be carved had magical properties and was alive, able to speak and prophecy; it seems likely that the Maya had similar beliefs. When it was made and kept by the Maya, this piece would have been painted an array of bright colors, and it may have had offerings and libations made to it. It comes from Kaminaljuyu, a major Maya city that is today located under the western third of modern Guatemala City. Size: 5.5" L x 4.3" W x 13.5" H (14 cm x 10.9 cm x 34.3 cm)
Provenance: Ex-Private California Collection acquired prior to 1970
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