Mayan hachas, or axes, such as the expertly carved work seen here, which still has traces of its original red paint, were associated with the Mesoamerican ball game that centered around getting a hard rubber ball through a high loop on a wall. The stakes were high, as those who lost or even won a round might be sacrificed. These hachas represented outfits the players would wear to protect their bodies and also make the ball bounce more powerfully.
For the Maya, parrots, like those represented in this object, were often associated with fire and the sun, an all-important deity that was believed to provide life to their agriculturally based civilization. Snakes were associated with rebirth, also conveyed via celestial bodies such as the sun, moon, planets, and stars across the heavens.
Iman Issa receives the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Fine Arts for exploring, through works of various media, difficult philosophical questions, such as the individual’s relationship to places, figures, and events that are collectively familiar, or the difference between experience and recognition.
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