Mushroom God, Maya
Maya civilization, Preclassic period, Guatemala, 1st millenium BC
Height : 30 cm
Provenance : Private collection, Antwerp
Collection Marc Delorme, Paris
The ritual use of hallucinogenic mushrooms in Mesoamerica is attested in multiple cultures such as the Olmec, Zapotec, Maya, Teotihuacano, Toltec, Mixtec, and Aztec, and its origin probably traces back much earlier, to the Archaic period.
The late Maya archaeologist, Dr Stephan F. de Borhegyi, published in 1957 the first of several articles in which he proposed the existence of a Mesoamerican mushroom cult in the Guatemalan highlands as early as 1000 B.C. This cult, which was associated from its beginnings with ritual human decapitation, a trophy head cult, warfare and the Mesoamerican ballgame, appears to have had its origins along the Pacific coastal piedmont. Borhegyi developed this proposition after finding a significant number of small, mushroom-shaped sculptures in the collections of the Guatemala National Museum and in numerous private collections in and around Guatemala City. While the majority of these small stone sculptures were of indeterminate provenance, a sufficient number had been found during the course of archaeological investigations as to permit him to determine approximate dates and to catalog them stylistically (Borhegyi de, S.F., 1957b, “Mushroom Stones of Middle America,” in Mushrooms, Russia and History by Valentina P. Was- son and Robert G. Wasson, eds. N.T.)