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Masterworks

MASTERWORKS

Superb art for the discriminating collector . . .

 
  • Pre-Columbian, Southern Mexico to Guatemala, Olmec, ca. 1200 to 600 BCE. A large kaolin-slipped earthenware Olmec baby figure seated on a rounded posterior and balancing itself on inward-folded legs and curled toes, its slender, sinuous arms held tightly against its portly abdomen - that bit of extra body fat we endearingly refer to as 'baby fat' interrupted by a slight recessed navel. Sitting with a forward posture and arched back, the flat chest and rounded shoulders are characteristically void of definition. The slightly elongated head boasts an expressive pouting visage comprised of closed eyes, a surprisingly naturalistic nose, puffy cheeks, hemispherical ears, and a protruding bottom lip on a frowning mouth. The domed forehead has a thin, incised band just above the brow line, and coffee-bean-shaped hair nodes are accented with red cinnabar for aesthetic appeal. An exceedingly rare example displaying hallmark Olmec baby facial features as well as expressive attitude and pose. Size: 7" W x 10.25" H (17.8 cm x 26 cm).

    The Olmec are famous for their human depictions; as the first major civilization in this fertile area, their artwork inspired the civilizations that came after them to the point where we think some of these later cultures revered Olmec artwork and kept it as heirlooms. Figures of this style are known as "baby face," with plump bodies and chubby, pouty facial features. Infants are a recurring theme from Olmec art, and this one would have likely displayed a much more vibrant kaolin slip coating to match other known examples. The shape of their heads - like this example - have been attributed to deliberate skull shaping. TL from Oxford Authentication Ltd, Oxford, England accompanies. Ref # M213675/07

    For an interesting article about Olmec baby figures see "Olmec Babies as Early Portraiture in the Americas" by James Doyle, Assistant Curator, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, April 17, 2015 - https://www.metmuseum.org/blogs/now-at-the-met/2015/olmec-babies

    Condition: Repaired from several pieces with light restoration and resurfacing along abdomen, above posterior, and underneath one arm; around 95% original material. Age-commensurate surface wear, fading and minor nicks to kaolin slip and red cinnabar, small chips to feet, ears, and head, otherwise very good. Great earthen and mineral deposits and light root marks throughout.

    Provenance: ex-Powers collection, Pacific Palisades, California, USA, acquired before 1994

    All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

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    Rare Important Olmec Seated Terracotta Baby w/ Oxford TL

  • Middle East / North Africa, Islamic world, ca. 10th to 16th century CE. A massive, thick limestone relief panel made to be a wall decoration in a palace. Raised flowers, vines, leaves, and flourishes decorate the surface, centered around a wide ovoid with a fountain-like feature at its middle, drawing the eye's focus. Small details decorate each carving, outlining the stems of the leaves and the individual petals of each flower. Anyone who has visited an area of medieval Muslim influence - from the Alhambra in Spain to the great preserved palaces of the Middle East - will have been struck by the incredible ornate relief decorations. Size: 4.75" L x 29.5" W x 20.5" H (12.1 cm x 74.9 cm x 52.1 cm)

    In Spain and North Africa, the style shown here - with the vegetal/floral pattern - is known as ataurique, from the Arabic "al-tawriq", meaning leaves, foliage, and flora. These patterns started as classical decorative elements - fruits, flowers, and acanthus leaves - and over time evolved into slightly more abstract, stylized forms, as here. They are often found on arches and windows. A similar example comes from 9th century Samarra, briefly the capital of the Abbasid caliphate in modern Iraq, where a wall revetment found in the remains of a private house is decorated with abstract floral patterns set within circles and square borders. Samarra is famous for its carved stucco and decorative tiles, which have been used to trace the evolution of Islamic imagery.

    Please note that this item weighs over 200 lbs (91 kg) and will require a custom shipping estimate.

    Condition: Small losses around the edges with some scratching commensurate with age, but overall in beautiful condition with clear motifs. Lightly weathered surface with some small darker deposits.

    Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection; ex-private Swiss collection, gathered in the 1980s

    All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

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    10th C. Islamic Limestone Relief Panel (from a Palace)

  • Late Roman or Early Byzantine, the Levant, late Imperial Period, ca. 4th to 6th century CE. A well-executed mosaic composition depicting four birds - perhaps doves or quail - surrounding a large central twin-handled amphora with a peg toe and a wide mouth from which leafy vines extend and fall to either side. All is delineated in orange, black, grey, and cream stone tesserae, mounted in a modern cement matrix with a metal frame for support. The attention to detail is impressive, as the mosaicist carefully delineated the avians' eyes, beaks, wings, feathering, and perched feet - as well as the pointed leaves emerging from the naturalistically rendered stems. The colorful birds, foliage, and vessel are set against a creamy white ground. The volumes of the forms are skillfully modeled with color so as to create a somewhat three dimensional effect. Size: 35.75" W x 35.75" H (90.8 cm x 90.8 cm)

    Birds - and indeed, animals of all kinds - were incredibly popular artistic themes in the Roman Empire. Romans delighted in seeing animals, and a major industry during the imperial period was the capture and transport of birds, mammals, and lizards for display and sport in the Roman arena. Ancient Roman mosaic artwork reflects this interest. For example, at Pompeii, there are multiple mosaics depicting well-rendered, lifelike birds engaging in a variety of activities - sitting in trees, warily watching cats, and in the case of one partridge, plucking at a necklace as if to steal it. Based on where mosaics depicting them have been found, birds seem to have been considered tranquil, peaceful subjects for the interiors of homes (not so the case with many other types of animals).

    Mosaics (opus tesellatum) are some of our enduring images from the Roman world, not only for their aesthetic beauty, but also because they reveal what Romans chose to depict and see every day decorating their private and public spaces. In the Roman province of Syria, which encompassed most of the ancient Near East/Levant, mosaics seem to have developed as a common art form relatively late, with most finds coming from the 3rd century CE or later. Syria was one of Rome's wealthiest provinces, but it was also far removed from Rome itself and Roman culture was overlaid on enduring cultural traditions from Hellenistic Greece and the great civilizations that came before it. Antioch-on-the-Orontes (modern day Antakya, Turkey), was the capital of northern Roman Syria, and its excavations in the 1930s revealed more than three hundred mosaic pavements.

    Condition: Expected age wear. Losses to peripheries as shown. A few minor losses to interior tesserae as shown. Set into modern plaster matrix with metal framing. Some missing recessed screws. A few cracks to the plaster matrix visible at margins and verso, one section of matrix on verso appears to have been replaced.

    Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection, acquired from the collection of Dr. Gary Karch in Florida, USA during the 1970’s, purchased in Israel

    All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

    A Certificate of Authenticity will accompany all purchases

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    Roman / Byzantine Mosaic - Birds, Vessel, & Leafy Vines

  • Late Roman or Early Byzantine, the Levant, late Imperial Period, ca. 4th to 6th century CE. A well-executed mosaic composition set on a diagonal that depicts two birds - perhaps ducks, doves, or quail - surrounding an elegant polychrome urn that is handsomely decorated with an attractive geometric/linear pattern. Above them is a fruitful palm tree. All is delineated in brick red, golden yellow ochre, charcoal black, slate grey, chocolate brown, and creamy beige square/rectangular stone tesserae. The birds are delineated in a naturalistic manner with great attention to detail, presenting our feathered friends' carefully delineated eyes, beaks, wings, plumage, perched feet, as well as distinct poses; note how the bird on the left is erect with the left foot raised as if about to move toward the vessel, while the bird on the right appears to be peering into the vase to inspect or peck at its contents. On the other hand, the palm tree above is rendered out of scale - not much larger than each bird - in a somewhat irrational manner that one finds in Roman Fourth Style wall paintings. Size: 53" W x 53" H (134.6 cm x 134.6 cm) oriented diagonally

    Palm trees were especially significant in the ancient world - symbolizing peace, victory, and immortality. In ancient Rome the palm frond as well as the tree itself personified Victory. This meaning may be traced to ancient Greece where a palm branch was presented to the victors of athletic events. Furthermore, given that victory implies the end of a competition, rivalry, or conflict, the palm came to be a symbol of peace. Furthermore, in Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt, the palm signified immortality, and in Judaism, closed date palm fronds became a critical component of the lulav cherished during Sukkot to commemorate the years the Jewish people spent in the desert prior to reaching the Promised Land.

    Birds - and indeed, animals of all kinds - were incredibly popular artistic themes in the Roman Empire. Romans delighted in seeing animals, and a major industry during the imperial period was the capture and transport of birds, mammals, and lizards for display and sport in the Roman arena. Ancient Roman mosaic artwork reflects this interest. For example, at Pompeii, there are multiple mosaics depicting well-rendered, lifelike birds engaging in a variety of activities - sitting in trees, warily watching cats, and in the case of one partridge, plucking at a necklace as if to steal it. Based on where mosaics depicting them have been found, birds seem to have been considered tranquil, peaceful subjects for the interiors of homes (not so the case with many other types of animals).

    Mosaics (opus tesellatum) are some of our enduring images from the Roman world, not only for their aesthetic beauty, but also because they reveal what Romans chose to depict and see every day decorating their private and public spaces. This piece at first glance seems quite simple - two birds inspecting the contents of a vessel below a palm tree. However, the symbolism of the iconography is layered and rich. Perhaps this piece is commemorating a victory that recently occurred in a Roman arena - perhaps it is a statement of peace - perhaps a plea for longevity or eternal life. While impossible to know for certain, one can muse on these possibilities and certainly appreciate the immense skill and technique it took to create.

    In the Roman province of Syria, which encompassed most of the ancient Near East/Levant, mosaics seem to have developed as a common art form relatively late, with most finds coming from the 3rd century CE or later. Syria was one of Rome's wealthiest provinces, but it was also far removed from Rome itself and Roman culture was overlaid on enduring cultural traditions from Hellenistic Greece and the great civilizations that came before it. For example, Antioch-on-the-Orontes (modern day Antakya, Turkey), was the capital of northern Roman Syria, and its excavations in the 1930s revealed more than three hundred mosaic pavements. This mosaic was probably in a private home.

    Condition: Mounted in a modern cement matrix with a metal frame and board backing for added security. Small losses around edges and a few missing tesserae throughout, but the image is vivid and no detail is lost. Otherwise in very nice condition with light encrustation in between the tesserae. Inventory label that reads "Lot No. CFO271 / 010 Classic F.A." and another small white collection label with the number 5738 on one side of metal framing.

    Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection, acquired from the collection of Dr. Gary Karch in Florida, USA during the 1970’s, purchased in Israel

    All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

    A Certificate of Authenticity will accompany all purchases

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    Roman Mosaic w/ Birds, Urn, Palm for Victory & Peace

  • Roman, Imperial period, ca. 3rd century CE. A beautifully-preserved example of a marble column capital of the Corinthian Order, with a drilled decorative motif of flowers and leaves below a triple-tiered upper portion. The base has a round, drilled cylinder used to attach the capital to a column. Delicate swirls and folds speak to the skill of the artisan who made the piece, which would have adorned a luxurious building of Classical style. Size: 12.8" W x 7.55" H (32.5 cm x 19.2 cm)

    The drilled motifs are the clue to the age of this piece. From the 3rd century CE onward, Roman sculptors commonly began to use running drills for decorative effects. Holding a wooden support in one hand to guide the drill bit, the sculptor would drill into the surface at a 30-45 degree angle, repeatedly lifting and moving the drill to create a series of holes at a shallow angle to the surface of the stone, creating the appearance of a channel, as you can see here with the wavy effect used to create the impression of folded leaves. This is not only a beautiful piece, but also demonstrates the skill and tools of Roman artists.

    A Roman marble column capital sold at Christie's for $6250 in 2008: https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/a-roman-marble-column-capital-circa-2nd-3rd-5157998-details.aspx

    Condition: Wear commensurate with age, including a faint stain on the top from water. Motifs still clear.

    Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection

    All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

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    Roman Marble Column Capital - Corinthian Order

  • Pre-Columbian, North Coast Peru, Jequetepeque River region, Chavin culture, Tembladera phase, ca. 1200 to 1000 BCE. A fabulous ceramic vessel depicting two fisherman sitting atop a pair of cylindrical rafts. Each figure has a stylized visage consisting of wide, ovoid eyes, broad ears adorn with perforated spools, perky noses, and simple headbands. The heads are bifurcated with a small incised line separating their mouths which are embellished with maroon pigment. The taller fisherman has an outward-turned head with one elbow resting atop a small gourd, and the other crouching figure looks pensively down at the raft while grasping a strap attached to a gourd vessel on his back. A narrow stirrup-shaped handle extends from the backs of the figures with a tubular spout in the center. This is an exceedingly rare style of early Chavin pottery which presents subtle detailing and a sophisticated presentation absent in most figural vessels from this culture. Size: 5.25" L x 5" W x 8.2" H (13.3 cm x 12.7 cm x 20.8 cm).

    The Chavin people lived in the northern Highland Andes, and their capital, Chavin de Huantar, is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The artwork of Chavin represents the first widespread artistic style in the Andes. The center of Chavin de Huantar is a massive, flat-topped pyramid, surrounded by lower platforms. Between 1200 and 500 BCE the pyramid space was used for religious ceremonies. The Old Temple, constructed very early in the history of the site, consists of a series of passageways built around a circular courtyard; within were carved stone monuments showing jaguars, serpents, and other figures with transformative and/or anthropomorphic figures.

    Vessels like this example reveal a fascinating fact about the Chavin people: even though they lived in the uplands roughly 50 kilometers inland, fish and shellfish were still some of their major sources of protein and overall sustenance. They created wide-ranging trade networks with people located along the coast, and both subsistence and luxury goods were exchanged between the lowlands and the highlands. The Chavin were also able to traverse the Jequetepeque river for fish and other marine life when trade was slowed due to weather, war, or other circumstances. Coastal cemeteries far from the Chavin center contain vessels like this one created in Chavin and traded for food.

    This vessel is intriguing due to both the subject matter and portrayal of its figures. The Chavin were adept at navigating the coastal waters of Peru as well as the inland waterways, and fishing was a necessary means of survival. Effigy pottery typically shows individuals in a positive light, often with upbeat presentations evocative of success or proliferation in the tasks at hand; this vessel, however, does not fit such archetypes. The fisherman shown here are sullen with melancholy expressions brought forth with blank eyes, tight mouths, and reserved poses. Each appears as though they have been unsuccessful in securing their catch, with the shorter figure endlessly waiting for any activity, and the taller figure looking backwards in the hopes of seeing any signs of movement in the surrounding waters. Perhaps it is hunger which causes their solemn expressions, or maybe the fear of returning to their village empty-handed. Whatever the case, the outlook for these two fishermen appears bleak at best.

    This piece has been tested using thermoluminescence (TL) and has been found to be ancient and of the period stated. A full report will accompany purchase.

    Condition: Small loss to tip of headdress on shorter figure. Surface wear and abrasions commensurate with age, very minor nicks to heads, spout, handle, and raft bodies, light fading to applied pigmentation, and light roughness across most lower surfaces. Nice earthen deposits throughout.

    Provenance: ex-private New York, New York, USA collection; ex-Splendors of the World, Hawaii, USA; ex-Ian Arundel collection, Los Angeles, California, USA, acquired in the 1960s

    All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

    A Certificate of Authenticity will accompany all purchases

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    Rare Chavin Double Fisherman Stirrup Vessel, TL Tested

  • Pre-Columbian, Central Mexico, Guerrero region, Chontal, Late Preclassic period, ca. 300 to 100 BCE. A beautiful face mask of an oblong rectangular form, hand-carved from a mottled green stone with white and beige inclusions. The minimalist visage is defined by prototypical puffy cheeks and lips, deeply-pierced eyes, flush cheeks and chin, raised eyebrows connected to a large nose, and a heavy brow line. Each corner of the mask bears a biconically-drilled suspension hole, allowing it to be fastened to the face of a deceased individual. Custom museum-quality display stand included. Size: 5.125" W x 5.125" H (13 cm x 13 cm); 6.625" H (16.8 cm) on included custom stand.

    The Guerrero region of modern-day southwestern Mexico was the center of the Mezcala and Chontal stone carving traditions. While Mezcala artists are known for their abstract, geometric style, the Chontal sculptors imbued their artworks with more naturalism. Although their stonework stems from the Preclassic period, ca. 300 to 100 BCE, later Mesoamerican peoples clearly cherished Chontal portable sculptures as heirlooms. Chontal creations have been unearthed in ritual caches at Templo Mayor, the principle temple of the 15th century Aztecs of Tenochtitlan (Mexico City).

    What's more, legendary 20th century modernists such as Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and Miguel Covarrubias appreciated the minimalist qualities of Chontal art. Covarrubias went so far as to compare it to the Cycladic style of ancient Greece. Scholars believe that such masks as this example were tied to funerary bundles of the noble elite; however, smaller scale masks suggest they may have been attached to clothing.

    A slightly-larger and stylistically-similar example hammered for $31,070 at Christie's, New York "Important Pre-Columbian Art: A European Private Collection" Auction (sale 1537, November 12, 2004, lot 26): https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/a-chontal-stone-mask-late-preclassic-ca-4384403-details.aspx

    Condition: Surface wear and abrasions commensurate with age, some minor nicks around face and peripheries, and light roughness in some areas, otherwise intact and excellent. Nice earthen deposits throughout.

    Provenance: ex-private Arizona, USA collection; ex - Anastolio Estrada Morales collection, acquired in 1939, brought to the United States in 1942, by descent to his son, Rogaciano Ramirez.

    All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

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    Superb Chontal Greenstone Mask - Collected Before 1935

  • Pre-Columbian, North Coast Peru, Chavin, ca. 900 to 200 BCE. An impressive ensemble of wearable art intended for a lord or shaman from the ancient Chavin peoples, all made from high karat gold that was hammered from yellow gold nuggets found in the River Jequetepeque. The ensemble includes a breathtaking double-strand necklace comprised of hundreds of spherical 18 karat gold beads and a very large half-moon shaped, ~ 20 karat gold pendant as well as the elements of a crown including a beautiful 18 karat circular roundel with a protruding center and 6 danglers representing the sun, flanked by six rectangular plaques comprised of more than 20 karat gold. Among the oldest goldworks from ancient Peru. Size: Each of the gold bead strands measures 18" L (45.7 cm); lunate pendant measures 5.625" W x 3.875" H (14.3 cm x 9.8 cm); sun-shaped central crown element measures 2.25" W (5.7 cm) + .5" L (1.3 cm) danglers; rectangular plaques measure 1.25" W x 1" H (3.2 cm x 2.5 cm); custom stand measures 13.75" W x 18.25" H (34.9 cm x 46.4 cm)

    These items represent some of the earliest gold work from the Andes. The first known extraction of ore comes from the Initial/Formative period, ca. 1800 to 900 BCE; during the Early Horizon (ca. 900 to 200 BCE), when these were made, the Andes seem to have been united under the cult propagated out of Chavin de Huantar. Metalwork was still quite rare, and almost exclusively of gold.

    This ensemble brings to mind the fabulous exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art entitled, "Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas" (February 28 - May 28, 2018). According to the curatorial team, "In the ancient Americas, metals were employed primarily for ritual objects and regalia, rather than tools, weapons, or currency. These items were considered to be imbued with sacred power by those who created and those who used them. Gold, transformed into objects made for gods and rulers, provides the central narrative and trajectory of the exhibition…" (https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2018/golden-kingdoms/exhibition-galleries)

    Condition: All beads and elements are ancient. Gold shows nice age patina. Some beads have minor dents - strung in modern times. Attached to stand, so pieces have not been weighed.

    Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex-private Hirsch collection, Germany

    All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

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    Chavin 18K+ Gold Crown & Necklace for a Lord-King

  • North America, Alaska, Pleistocene epoch (Ice Age), ca. 35,000 years ago. An absolutely stunning, complete, and enormous mammoth tusk with wonderful dark blue-green coloring. Comes with custom stand. Due to the complexity of the form, we have provided extensive measurements. For further description, we have provided more information below. Size: 66.75" L from tip to tip; 77" L along its length; 12" in circumference at widest point (169.5 cm; 195.5 cm; 30.5 cm). Height on stand is 29" (73.7 cm); size of stand is 19.5" W x 10.5" L (49.5 cm x 26.7 cm). Please note: due to the size and weight of this piece, a custom shipping quote is required. Please inquire.

    The same Alaskan mineral deposits that led to the gold rush of the 1890s has turned this huge mammoth tusk its distinctive blue green color through the process of mineralization - after the animal's death, the tusk lay in soil containing the mineral Vivianite, which occurs near mineral ores, as in gold mines. The color contrasts beautifully with the more familiar fossilization colors of cream and gold that are also present. The area of darker coloration at one end of the tusk represents where the tusk was connected to the mammoth's body; the lighter area beyond was exposed to the air.

    While mammoths survived until ca. 5600 years ago on remote Alaskan islands, those animals had begun to shrink in size as the climate warmed from the end of the Ice Age ca. 10,000 years ago. A tusk of this size comes from deep within the Pleistocene, when the northern hemisphere was dominated by massive ice sheets drained by enormous glacial rivers and lakes. Imagine encountering this animal on an Ice Age steppe, towering up to 13 feet at the shoulder and weighing up to 12 tons, with this tusk and its partner rising in an upward curve from their jaw. Imagine the strength the animal's neck must have had just to hold up these massive teeth!

    Continue to imagine, now walking in a modern Arctic or sub-Arctic landscape like Alaska, northern Canada, or Siberia and finding a tusk like this rising from the ground. The name mammoth comes from a Siberian word used to describe the tusks found there by native people, like the Khanty of the Irtysh River basin, and traded to Europe and China. Their occasional finds of massive tusks and even preserved mammoth bodies in the permafrost - often eroding out of the sides of river banks - led to their folkloric belief that mammoths were like huge rodents, dwelling underground, dying when they accidentally surfaced. With the invention of science as a discipline during the Age of Enlightenment, massive tusks like this one continued to capture imaginations all over the world - for example, Thomas Jefferson, who was fascinated by paleontology, is credited with introducing the use of the word mammoth as an adjective to describe something very large.

    Please note that fossilized ivory tusks from any species cannot be shipped to the US States of California, Hawaii, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Washington State. As of 2019, they will not be able to be shipped to Illinois.

    Condition: Surface coated with epoxy resin; areas of restoration, but no visible repairs.

    Provenance: Ex-Private South Dakota collection, acquired in Alasaka

    All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

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    Huge Pleistocene Mammoth Tusk - Over 6 Feet Long!

  • Pre-Columbian, Central Mexico, Aztec, ca. 1470 to 1521 CE. Finely carved from a red volcanic stone, the head of a young man with a naturalistic nose, slightly parted lips, almond-shaped eyes that would have been set with inlays - perhaps shell, obsidian, or another stone - nicely contoured facial planes, large ears, and a low cut coiffure. This plain hairstyle suggests that the head would have been furnished with different headdresses to represent various deities during festivals throughout the year. Recent scholarship also suggests that sculptures like this were intended to represent various states of intoxication via the consumption of pulque - a special Aztec beverage derived from the maguey or agave plant. Size: 8" H (20.3 cm); 12.25" H (31.1 cm) on included custom stand.

    Pulque was one of several alcoholic drinks made from the fermented sap of the Maguey plant. (Tequila is another that may be more familiar to you, though it is distilled to make it stronger.) Pulque consumption was widespread throughout Pre-Columbian Mexico, and there were various gods and goddesses associated with it. Most notably, the Aztec god Tepoztecal was the god of alcoholic merriment. Pulque was served at religious ceremonies as a ritual intoxicant for priests and as a medicinal drink. It was also served in elaborate ceremonies to celebrate brave heroes of battle, and was so sacred as to be an acceptable substitute for blood in certain ancient rituals.

    According to Deborah Toner, Lecturer at the University of Leicester, "Pulque’s special status as a material substance connecting together human, natural and divine worlds was also due to its intoxicating properties. Intoxication was understood as a state of instability and unpredictability that was also valuable as means of transferring between human, divine and natural states of being. Pulque – together with chocolate, tobacco, blood and hallucinogenic substances – fulfilled this special function, which was at the heart of much of the Aztecs’ religious and ritual life." (https://staffblogs.le.ac.uk/consumingauthenticities/2015/07/03/the-story-of-pulque-part-3-ritual-and-power-in-aztec-mexico/)

    Deborah Toner also points to Aztec stone carvings of "drunkards" - very similar to this example - that display various emotional states following the consumption of pulque. See similar examples in the Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, Mexico City featured in Toner's article. (https://staffblogs.le.ac.uk/consumingauthenticities/2015/07/03/the-story-of-pulque-part-3-ritual-and-power-in-aztec-mexico/)

    Condition: Probably came from a larger free standing sculpture. Eyes would have had shell, stone, or obsidian inlays. Normal surface wear with some scuffs and abrasions. Losses to back of neckline as shown. "Morelos" handwritten in black on white on back of neck. Nice root marks and mineral deposits grace the surface.

    Provenance: ex-private Hawaii, USA collection; Dr. Allen A. Heflin, Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Sothebys, New York, November 24, 1997, lot 346; Stuart & Scott Gentling Collection, Fort Worth, Texas, USA; Bonhams, New York, November 12, 2014, lot 80

    All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

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    Aztec Stone Head of Young Man, ex-Bonhams