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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Archive : Black Obsidian Skull
Black Obsidian Skull - PF.0747
Origin: Mexico
Circa: 1325 AD to 1521 AD
Dimensions: 16" (40.6cm) high
Catalogue: v2
Collection: Pre Columbian
Medium: obsidian


Additional Information: SOLD

Location: United States
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Description
For thousands of years cults of the dead have been an essential part of life in Mexico. There is nothing macabre in this; but rather a belief that life is cyclical and necessitates a proper balance to maintain its continuance. For the Aztecs the two basic metaphors for transformation were sexuality and death, since both were seen to result in the creation of life.("Aztec Art", Esther Pasztory). Art was important in providing a visualization of abstract principles, and what could be a more powerful reminder of the afterlife than this remarkable skull. Carved from hard volcanic glass the extraordinary face stares at us as if literally from another world. Concentric circles in white give a vortex effect into the eye sockets. A checkerboard pattern in white cleverly simulates rows of teeth. The skull itself is beautifully formed with graceful curves, especially evident in the sunken cheeks. Certainly we see this skull as a symbol of death; and yet in the Aztec sense it is also a symbol for life, coming full circle, returning to the light as the sun god was said to return to the sky after its triumph over darkness. - (PF.0747)

 

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