Pre-Columbian, Gulf Coast of Mexico, Veracruz culture, ca. 500 to 700 CE. A fascinating ceramic flute with an intricate openwork calendar or sunburst wheel-shaped motif around the lower half of the flute. The mouthpiece and blow hole are at one end of the long cylinder with a single sound hole at the other end. The cylindrical body of the flute splits the openwork wheel form in half; its intricate design is symmetrical, divided into five open and four flat panels on each side around a circular interior border, open at the center. The flat panels have incised stepped patterns that resemble Mesoamerican pyramids. The edge of the wheel has tiny tabs projecting from it at regular intervals, giving it the appearance to modern eyes of a cog. Size: 5.1" W x 9.75" H (13 cm x 24.8 cm); 4.7" H (11.9 cm) on included custom stand.
The people of ancient Veracruz, like their neighbors throughout Mesoamerica, had elaborate, astronomically accurate calendars that they used to chart the annual rain and drought cycle that governed their agriculture. The calendar was crucial to know when to perform religious rituals that they felt ensured the success of their food supply. The yearly cycle was mirrored daily in the cycle of the rising and setting sun. Looking at this flute, it is impossible not to think of the Mesoamerican concept of cyclical time, ritually divided to ensure the continuation of the present age and prevent the wrath of gods not properly worshipped.
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex Splendors of the World, Los Angeles, USA; ex Arte Primitivo, New York, USA
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