Pre-Columbian, Mexico, Vera Cruz/Veracruz, ca. 700 to 900 CE. Carved on both sides, from a single piece of stone of dark grey/black hues, an important ceremonial hacha depicting a human visage - that of a warrior given his helmet - in profile and of an overall flat form to resemble a symbolic axe. At the same time, the sculptor provided strong details, delineating the subject's naturalistic features - slightly parted lips, full nose, and ovoid eyes - beneath his grand helmet which presents beautifully embellished cheekpieces. The large perforation at the back of the helmet was intended for attachment. Size: 6.5" W x 9" H (16.5 cm x 22.9 cm)
Hachas were associated with the ritual Mesoamerican ball game, though they were not actually part of the player's equipment. Instead these were worn during ritualistic ceremonies related to the game. The name stems from the fact that they were believed to be axe-heads; hence the term hacha (Spanish for axe). Based on ceramic figures and imagery on stone carvings, some authors have proposed that hachas were meant to be attached to yugos (yokes). Others suggest that some of the hachas could have served as ball court markers.
See a similar hacha in the collection of the British Museum - museum number Am1849.0629.3 - http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details/collection_image_gallery.aspx?partid=1&assetid=889693001&objectid=758990
Provenance: private Los Angeles County, California, USA collection
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