Pre-Columbian, West Mexico, Colima, ca. 300 BCE to 300 CE. A lovely collection of five hand-knapped obsidian stones with rounded forms of different sizes with smooth and flat surfaces, which may indicate they were used as mirrors. Obsidian is a naturally glassy and lustrous stone, and when polished, the surface can be quite reflective. Two have hand-drilled perforations through the edges, perhaps for suspension or additional ornamentation. Mirrors were prized by the ancients of the Americas, and were believed to serve as portals to the celestial realm, treasured for their divinatory, healing, as well as decorative properties. Whether these examples served as mirrors or tools for cutting, raw obsidian was rare and hard to obtain, making these larger pieces quite valuable to ancient cultures. Size (largest): 3.625" Diameter (9.2 cm); (smallest): 1.375" Diameter (3.5 cm)
Obsidian - "iztli" to them - fascinated the ancient Mesoamericans; the Aztecs even had a god, Tezcatlipoca, who was the Lord of the Smoking Obsidian Mirror. In a world without metal, this sharp quality was especially important for ceremonies of ritual bloodletting and human sacrifice. The difficult-to-obtain material came from volcanic sources in the Sierra Madre of Mexico and in Guatemala, was traded hundreds of miles to meet the demand for sharp cutting tools and ritual objects, and then was struck using a deer antler or small hammer stones to form blades and forms. The Colima buried their dead in shaft tombs deep below their residences, alongside the remains of their ancestors. These tombs were richly furnished with ceramic figures, vessels, offerings, and precious stone items of jade and obsidian like these examples.
Provenance: private Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA collection; ex-Dr. David Harner collection, Springdale, Arkansas, USA, acquired between the 1950s and 1960s
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Nicks, chips, and losses to peripheries of all. Scratches and scuffs to surfaces. The largest has a very reflective and smooth surface. Mineral deposits, root marks, and earthen encrustations on two mirrors.