Pre-Columbian, Classic Maya, ca. 300 to 900 CE. A fabulous example of a figural hacha, hewn from a large piece of grey volcanic rock, most likely basalt, that was part of the ritual items associated with the Mesoamerican ballgame. The stone is of a generally flat form in order to resemble a symbolic axe - hence the name "hacha," meaning "axe" in Spanish. However, a profile visage is skillfully carved on both sides with bold features in relief including an oval eye with a sunken center, a long aquiline nose, and a mouth comprised of fleshy lips that are curved upward in a smile. A cap possessing repeated arc motifs conjuring rainbow or sunray imagery tops his head. Interestingly, this figure possesses arms with fingered hands holding his cheeks and legs outspread below. Size: 5.5" W x 7.5" H (14 cm x 19 cm)
The Mesoamerican ballgame was a ritual event, not just for entertainment (although it would have been that too!), and as a result had elaborate attire and accessories. Stone hachas were not actually used to play the game, but instead were probably worn or carried, hafted onto wooden poles like standards, in ritual processions where the elite sponsors of the game displayed them to demonstrate their wealth - similar in this respect to seeing the owners of your local team out on the field after a championship win or on Opening Day.
Provenance: private Arcadia, California, USA collection, acquired over twenty years ago
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