TITLE: Grooved yoke
CULTURE: Centre - Southern Veracruz
PERIOD: Late Classic era, 600 - 900 AD
MATERIAL: Green stone
DIMENSIONS: 42 cm length and 37 cm width
PRICE: 9,500 €
PROVENANCE: Valdés Collection, Texas (USA) built up in the 1960s
CONDITIONS: Intact, in a good state of preservation.
This is a yoke sculpted from green stone with seven vertical grooves.
The prehispanic stone yokes are a ceremonial representation of the lighter belt or girdle usually made from leather or wood and worn by the players in the Mesoamerican ballgame. On relief panels on the walls of the ball courts where this ritual game was played (as in the case of the south ballgame in El Tajín, Veracruz) can be seen people attired with yokes, palms and carrying ceremonial axes. They are carrying out sacrifices, especially decapitation, as blood was considered necessary to feed the earth and bring fertility.
There are various typologies of yokes on the formal and decorative level. Most of the known pieces are open U-shapes; however there are examples when the U-shape is closed at the back. As to decoration, some yokes are smooth, but for the most part they are worked illustrating two principal themes: either that of the Earth Monster, based on a stylized frog, or anthropomorphic figures in a horizontal position.
The use of materials like green stone and other hard stone as well as their exuberant decorations denote the importance of rank and social status and of the use and function of these objects in ritual contexts.
- LADRÓN DE GUEVARA, Sara. Las culturas del Golfo. Conaculta-INAH, México.
- VON WINNING, Hasso. Pre-Columbian Art of Mexico and Central America.
- AA.VV. In the heart of Precolumbian America. The Gérard Geiger Collection. 2003.
- EKHOLM, Gordon F. The probable use of Mexican stone yokes. American Anthropologist, 48:593. 1946.