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Hartley Entire Collection

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Incised Stone

Unknown Artist (Zapotec, Mexico)

Offerings at the Zapotec site of Monte Albán (Valley of Oaxaca) frequently include small, flat carvings similar to this example. They usually represent frontal depictions of standing or seated male figures, whereas smaller examples depict only a frontal face. All types usually have suspension holes drilled at the sides or through the rear lateral edges, as present here. These holes allowed for suspension as body adornment. For excavated examples, see Caso, Alfonso, 1965, “Lapidary Work, Goldwork, and Copperwork from Oaxaca.” In Handbook of Middle American Indians, vol. 3, part 2:909-911. University of Texas Press, Austin.
This style of figural stone carvings as offerings continued into the Post-Classic period (900-1521 CE) in Oaxaca among both the Zapotecs and Mixtecs, although changes in artistic style identify these later versions. Many were found in the rich cache in Mound B at Monte Albán (Monte Albán IV phase, 900-1300 CE). Examples also have been found in ritual caches in the Templo Mayor, the Aztec political and spiritual center in Tenochtitlán (Mexico City).

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Provenance History
  • Owner Name: Marsden Hartley Estate

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