Large Carved Jade Figure of Xipe-Totec
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Directory: Vintage Arts: Regional Art: Pre 1940: Item # 796202
PO Box 480
Bonsall, California 92003
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This carved jade or hardstone figure of Xipe-Totec measures 8.5 inches tall x 4.5 inches in width x 3.25 inches in depth.
It is in basically good condition, with the loss of the bottom portion of both legs. It also has some old repairs to its left hand and right arm at the shoulder. A few other interior cracks round out it's condition problems.
All things considered, it is in pretty good shape, coming from a culture that ritually killed it's pots and figures on a regular basis (along with numerous human slaves and prisoners).
Although it has some stylistic similarities with Olmec figures (except around the mouth), it has more similarities with the Aztec or Mayan Cultures
It shows a figure wearing a second (flayed) skin, with hanging hands and stitch work up the backside to the head which would hold the flayed skin in place. The level of detail on the reverse stitchwork carving is remarkable and an indication of the importance of this piece.
Although we seriously believe this antique jade carving to be authentic and extremely old, we are not going to date this piece. . The buyer should make his or her own judgement as to the merits of this carving.
We never attempt to misrepresent or oversell a piece. For that reason we have priced this huge, well carved jade statue as if it were an old copy. If it turns out that this carving can be verified to be older than that, we are certain the buyer will not be disappointed. _________________________________________________________________________
Xipe-Totec, the flayed god, originated in Teotihuacán culture and continued in importance into Aztec times. In Aztec mythology, Xipe Totec ("our lord the flayed one") was a life-death-rebirth deity, god of agriculture, the west, disease, spring, goldsmiths and the seasons. He supposedly flayed himself to give food to humanity, symbolic of the maize seed losing the outer layer of the seed before germination. He represented a fertility cult and was said to assist the earth in making her new skin each spring.
Annually, slaves were selected as sacrifices to Xipe Totec. These slaves were carefully flayed to produce a nearly whole skin which was then worn by the priests during the fertility rituals that followed the sacrifice. Some accounts indicate that a thigh bone from the sacrifice was defleshed and used by the priest to touch spectators in a fertility blessing.
Paintings and several clay figures have been found which illustrate the flaying method and the appearance of priests wearing flayed skins. Without his skin, Xipe-Totec was depicted as a golden god. The priests of Xipe-Totec impersonated him by wearing a gold-dyed human skin for twenty days, or until the skin rotted away. The priest would then emerge reborn. .