Pre-Columbian, Classic Maya, ca. 500 to 950 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 and pecked on both sides with bold features in positive and negative relief including an almond-shaped eye with a sunken center, a browline that resolves in spiraling motifs behind the eyes, a zoomorphic nose/snout, and an open mouth with pecking marks over the chin. A fascinating hacha with both anthropomorphic and zoomorphic features. Size: 8" W x 9.375" H (20.3 cm x 23.8 cm); 10.125" H (25.7 cm) on included custom stand.
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 Southern California, USA collection, acquired in the 1970s to mid-1980s
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