Pre-Columbian, Mexico, Aztec, ca. 1300 to 1500 CE. A beautiful sculpture depicting a pumpkin, a squash, or quite possibly, a cacao pod - skillfully carved from a single piece of marble of rich creamy white hues with rose, pink, grey, yellow, black, and green inclusions. In her book, "Sacred Consumption: Food and Ritual in Aztec Art and Culture" (University of Texas Press, 2016. p. 44), Elizabeth Moran writes, "Food items were rendered by Aztec artists in a wide range of materials. Aztec stone workers made huge sculptures of cacti, squash, and pumpkin out of different stones; some scholars suggest that these huge food items were permanently on display in temples." Size: 8.25" in diameter at widest point x 13.75" H (21 cm x 34.9 cm)
Moran also describes a sculpture of a man holding a cacao pod by the stem at the Brooklyn Museum of Art that is just over 2 feet tall. She writes, "The male figure holds a disproportionately large pod . . . Here the cacao pod is transformed into a monumental food. Its large size denotes its significance. Cacao was a specialty item in the Mesoamerican world." Scholars suggest that the Aztecs believed that cacao seeds were actually gifts from Quetzalcoatl, the god of wisdom. Cacao seeds once possessed so much value and were used as a form of currency. Cacao was initially only prepared as a beverage. Unlike the sweet drink we consume today, the liquid chocolate was enjoyed as a bitter, frothy drink, blended with spices or at times corn puree. The indigenous believed it possessed aphrodisiac powers and at the same time gave the drinker increased strength. Today, these drinks are called "Chilate" and are made by the peoples residing in the South of Mexico.
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex Leonard Kaplan Collection, Los Angeles, California, USA
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A couple of minute nicks to end of stem and normal surface wear with areas of pitting. Otherwise superb.