Pre-Columbian, Highlands of Guatemala or Pacific Piedmont Mayan regions, ca. 300 BCE to 600 CE. According to archaeological studies, sadly misdirected Christian missionaries destroyed many mushroom stones similar to this example as they were believed to be related to the ingestion of hallucinogenic mushrooms. Only about 200 examples survived this destruction (Stephan F. de Borhegyi 1961). Thankfully, this example is among the survivors, carved from a single piece of volcanic stone in the form of an erect mushroom rising from an integral tripod pedestal. The phallic shape has led scholars to suggest that they pertained to a fertility cult, and anthropologists and archaeologists have determined that mushrooms were used to induce hallucinogenic trancelike states of shamans. Size: 6" W x 11.375" H (15.2 cm x 28.9 cm)
Interestingly, miniature mushroom shaped manos and metates are believed to have been used to prepare a ritual beverage made from mushrooms. In a manuscript written by Hernando Ruiz de Alarcon between 1617-1629 entitled, "Treatise on Indian Superstitions", Ruiz de Alarcon stated that the indigenous believed that sacred plants were actually gods. He described how a brown mushroom was pressed to make a drink. He wrote, "The cache of nine miniature mushroom stones demonstrates considerable antiquity for the 'mushroom-stone cult,' and suggests a possible association with the nine lords of the night and gods of the underworld, as well as the possible existence of a nine-day cycle and nocturnal count in Preclassic times. The association of the miniature mushroom stones with the miniature metates and manos greatly strengthens the possibility that at least in some areas in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica metates were used to grind the sacred hallucinatory mushrooms to prepare them for ceremonial consumption." (Borhegyi 1961: 498-504)
Provenance: private Omer Claiborne collection, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA; acquired over the last 40 years
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