Home > Art > Veracruz Mayan Hacha with Serpent or Avian Headdress, Late Classic Period
About the Object
This Veracruz-style Mayan hacha (hatchet or axe) was carved from unidentified gray-green stone that likely was associated with fertility, the rain, and the cycles of birth and death. Birds such as eagles and parrots were associated with fire and the sun, which Mesoamerican cultures acknowledged as vital for sustaining all life in the universe.
While hacha means “axe,” stone versions like this were associated with the Mesoamerican ball game. Scholars believe hachas depict the head gear worn by players both for protection and to harness the power of the animal/spiritual force associated with these creatures, which was important because either the winning or losing team might be sacrificed at the end of the match.
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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