Pre-Columbian, Mexico, Aztec, ca. 1330 to 1521. An outstanding stone sculpture finely carved from basalt and depicting Quetzalcoatl, the primordial feathered serpent god associated with intelligence and the creation of the world, with a human head peering out from its open mouth as if being swallowed by Quetzalcoatl. The serpent's body is so skillfully delineated with meticulously carved feathers along its sides and its back, a bifurcated tongue that ends in opposing scrolls, and a belly that is embellished with nine scutes that lead to an intimidating rattle. A museum-quality example with a Hasso von Winning report! Size: 4.15" W x 22.6" H (10.5 cm x 57.4 cm); 26.25" H (66.7 cm) on included custom stand.
Quetzalcoatl - "Feathered Serpent" in the Nahuatl language - is the Pre-Columbian deity revered as lord of wind and sky. The earliest representations of Quetzalcoatl adorn the Temple of Quetzalcoatl in Teotihuacan, Mexico (ca. 3rd century CE) where numerous stone heads of the divine plumed snake embellish the steps of this Pre-Classic pyramid. The pioneering artist/anthropologist Miguel Covarrubias whose writings and illustrations on indigenous cultures of the ancient Americas continue to contribute to scholarly studies today stated, "Quetzalcoatl stood for all that was good in this world: peace, art, wisdom, and prosperity. Disguised as an ant, he discovered maize, the staple food of the Indians, hidden under the mountain of Substance, Tonacatepetl; he also invented the arts, the sciences, and the calendar. In fact, everything connected with wisdom and culture was attributed to Quetzalcoatl." (Miguel Covarrubias, Mexico South: The Isthmus of Tehuantepec (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1946), 130.
This piece is accompanied by a Hasso von Winning report that is signed by von Winning and dated February 12, 1974.
Provenance: Private Collection, Los Angeles, California, USA, collected in the 1960s
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Repaired from three pieces, with repairs done vertically on the upper half. Normal weathering and abrasions to surface, but the details and form are well preserved.