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Aztec Ceremonial Flint Blade with Rare Crystallization

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Americas: Pre Columbian: Stone: Pre AD 1000: Item # 1162134

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Apolonia Ancient Art
290 Fillmore St. #D
Denver, CO. 80206
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Aztec Ceremonial Flint Blade with Rare Crystallization

This interesting piece is an Aztec flint blade which dates circa 1400-1525 A.D. This piece is approximately 6.3 inches high by 2.5 inches wide. This piece is intact, save for a minute chip at one end, and has a beautiful light brown patina with some spotty black mineral deposits. This piece has a small hole near the center of the piece, and this hole is full of minute crystals which are imbedded in the inner cavity, and run to the outer edge of the hole on each side of the piece. It's quite possible that the small hole with crystals was formed from constant mineral drippings, as this piece may have been a ceremonial offering that was buried in a cave or underground tomb. It is interesting to note that the crystals not only extend to the outer edge on each side of the hole, but also over both edges on each side of the piece, and onto the outer carved/chipped planes of the outer flat surfaces near the edge of each side of the hole. This is an indication that the crystal mineralization, and the hole seen on this piece, developed after this piece was carved and buried. The patina and the mineralization are also excellent indicators which go far in establishing the authenticity of this piece, and there are many forgeries of this type of piece that have been on the market. The carving of this piece is exceptional and very well detailed as well, as one can easily see that the carved/chipped planes become smaller towards the edge of the piece, and this forms a blade of elliptical form that has extremely sharp edges. Aztec blades of this type have been used as a lance or knife blade, but the piece offered here was likely used only in a votive context. The flint stone of this piece is also semi-translucent, and according to Eduardo Matos Moctezuma in "The Great Temple of the Aztecs: Treasures of Tenochtitlan", Thames and Hudson Pub., London, 1988, p. 97: "Many objects of flint and obsidian, locally available raw materials, were also made by the Aztec artisans to be deposited in caches. Flint was most frequently chipped into knives and blades. Some of these knives were decorated with with bits of shell and stone mosaic to form little faces in profile, resembling representations of the flint day sign in the Borbonicus. Similarly, obsidian (a volcanic glass) was chipped to form knives and blades with sharp cutting edges, but it was also carefully worked and polished into miniature imitations, such as small heads and rattles of the rattlesnake. Obsidian is an extremely dense and glassy stone, and is a difficult material to work; such miniatures attest to the skill of the Aztec craftsmen. While flint and obsidian implements symbolically and functionally evoke sacrifice and death, more overt evidence of ritual acts can be found in the numerous examples of worked crania. Sometimes a flint knife is placed between the teeth, like a tongue projecting from a grinning mouth, at other times another knife is inserted into the nasel cavity to create an animated image of death. We do not know wheather these objects were used as masks in rituals, or wheather they were made as symbols of death and sacrifice to be placed in offerings." (See attached photo from the text above, p. 98, ill. 80, of a skull mask with two analogous flint blades such as the example offered here.) The piece offered here was likely cermonial and was votive, but in exactly what context it was used, that is not certain, but whatever the case, the piece offered here is an extremely interesting and rare example of the type. This piece also comes with a custom wooden display stand, and can easily be removed. Ex: Private North Carolina collection, circa 1990's. Ex: H. Rose collection, New York. I certify that this piece is authentic as to date, culture, and condition:

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