Ceremonial Yoke, Mayan
Early Classic Period, Veracruz, Mexico, 100-400 AD
Hard Stone (Tecali)
Length : 40,5 cm ; Width : 35 cm
Provenance : Private collection, Kentucky
Carved in a rare banded green Tecali, this striking and very early yoke represents the image of a crouching frog in the guise of the earth god. The detailed facial features of the animal, with ears, legs and body sculpted along the sides, is more naturalistic and less stylized than on later models, and somehow reminds the Olmec iconography. Mesoamericans believed giant frogs were supernatural because of toxins on the frogs skin which held hallucenogenic properties involded during rituals.
This ceremonial yoke would have been used as regalia in the Maya ball game, before or right after the play. Various Mesoamerican cultures including the Olmecs, Mayans, and Aztecs played the Mesoamerican ball game which consisted of using only the hips to hit a heavy rubber ball through a stone hoop. The stone yoke is thought to be two heavy for use in the actual game and instead used for ceremonial purposes such as the sacrifice of players after a match. The yoke was worn at waist to symbolize the present world above the waist and the underworld beneath the waist. This symbolized the spiritual nature of the game in which players were often sacrificed after the game’s completion. Experts believe that the stone yoke was used as a mold for leather yokes used during the game. The leather would be molded after the stone yoke and filled with cotton to protect players bodies from the hard rubber ball. The rubber ball would bounce off the yokes which would cushion the ball as it bounced of players’ bodies.
Price on request