Lot 141
  • 141

Veracruz Stone Head Hacha Late Classic, circa AD 550-950

50,000 - 60,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • stone
  • Height: 7 7/8 in (20 cm)


Miguel Covarrubias, Mexico City
Rosa Covarrubias, Mexico City, by descent from the above
Private Collection, acquired from the above in 1963


The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, long term loan, 2002 - 2010

Catalogue Note

The well sculpted, high smooth cheekbones on this sculpture are a distinguishing feature that identifies a singular style of the hacha genre. On this example the cheekbones are full and rounded, sloping into the narrow chin. The rimmed oval eyes are surmounted by a prominent raised brow curving onto the temples. These well carved features portray distinctly different auras when viewed from the profile and side. The tranquil profile transforms to a forceful, intense expression when viewed frontally, with wide flared nostrils, broad mouth, and narrowed eyes. The brows flare out above the eyes in a hooded, brim-like form and the long and detailed ears frame the face accentuating the overall elongated shape of the head.

Hachas, and accompanying ballgame palmas are totally unstable sculptures on their own, and thus are carved with either a notched, tenoned or square back for support. The tenon at the back of this head would have been inserted either on a ceremonial yoke, or possibly into an architectural setting, allowing the head and face to appear completely independent and would have essentially 'overseen" the action of the ballgame. 

For the facial style, see Parsons et al., The Face of Ancient America: the Wally and Brenda Zollman Collection of Precolumbian Art, Indianapolis, 1988, p. 163, fig. 110, for a hacha from the Pacific Coast region; for a similar tenoned hacha from the Chiapas region recorded in the 1950s, see Shook and Marquis, Secrets in Stone: Yokes, Hachas and Palmas from Southern Mesoamerica, Philadelphia, 1996, p. 122, cat. no. H65, and also cat. nos. H63 and H64 for the type.