Monday, December 08, 2008

08/09 Academic Decathlon Image #2

Mosaic Skull and Jaw, Aztec Civilization 1350-1521, Bone, stone mosaic, and teeth (Pre-Hispanic Art)

This art piece is a human skull that is covered with small pieces of cut stone and shell, a mosaic technique. The pieces, called tesserae, are arranged in a deliberate manner over the surface of the skull. Notice how they are arranged in concentric circles around the eyes - even pieces of white shell or stone are used for the eyes and have been drilled to indicate the pupils. The turquoise used is valuable and communicates power. This skull was possibly used for ritual purposes.

Skulls like this are associated with human sacrifice. We know that the Aztecs thought that human sacrifice was necessary in order to satisfy the gods and keep their world in harmony. The Spanish, when they were invading the Aztecs, thought them to be barbarian - all the more reason to quickly eliminate them and exert their own authority. No doubt they collected these artifacts and took them back from their expeditions as there are a number of such skulls that are in museum collections throughout the world. Check out this site that has other jade and turquoise masks. Scroll down to see some that are similar to this example.

1 comment:

scooter said...

this is a nice, realistic sculpture of a skull(shapewise) and it took an imaginative mind to create this piece.