Pre-Columbian, Gulf Coast of Mexico, Veracruz culture, ca. 500 to 700 CE. A volcanic palma stone, carved by hand, in the shape of a dramatic male wild turkey, standing, its massive plumage spread behind it. Its head is bent downward, with large eyes, a segmented, curved beak, and a large crest rising from the top of the head and back of the neck. Strangely, the bird has human-like hands, which grasp something that is also caught between its beak, giving the impression that the bird is in the process of eating prey. Size: 4.5" W x 8" H (11.4 cm x 20.3 cm); 10.55" H (26.8 cm) on included custom stand.
The true palma was a heavy piece of leather worn by athletes during the Mesoamerican ballgame; stones like this one were carved to represent it in sculptural form. Stone palmas may have been given as awards or displayed in temples; the relationship between the ballgame and religion remains unclear, but there certainly seems to be a connection. The turkey theme relates to concepts of sacrifice, death, and rebirth, the struggles of the ballgame.
See a similar example at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/307649
Provenance: private southern California, USA collection, acquired in the 1970s to mid-1980s
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