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Rare Stone Ballgame Yoke, Pre-Columbian, Vera Cruz, Mexico, ca. 550 to 900 CE. Estimate $125,000 – $175,000. Photo Artemis Gallery

A truly breathtaking green stone yoke, likely a ceremonial representation of a lighter protective guard worn by Mesoamerican ballgame players.  Carved in deep relief with human head emerging from the rounded edge, hands and legs to each side.  Figure shows almost Olmecoid features with almond-shaped eyes, angular nose and defined lips, wearing earspools with dangling ornaments and collar.  Top is further enhanced with scrolling elements of the costume of the lord depicted.  Size:  16″L x 15″W x 5″H.

Custom museum-quality stand included. Comprehensive laboratory testing was conducted in France by Laboratoire M.S.M.A.P. and confirms all aspects of this piece are consistent with the age represented (13 page testing results and methodology included).  

The curved shape of the yoke symbolizes a cave, an entrance to the Underworld.  The ritual ballgame was a pervasive religious and political feature of ancient Mesoamerica, the region encompassing most of Mexico and neighboring Central America.  The game served to maintain the cosmic balance of the sun and planets, and the cycle of death and rebirth.

Provenance: Ex-private Ian Arundel Collection, California.

Artemis Gallery LIVEAntiquities, Pre-Columbian & Tribal Art. February 13, 2015