Pre-Columbian, Southern Mexico, Guerrero region, Mezcala culture, ca. 400 to 100 BCE. An incredibly rare example of a highly stylized lizard effigy, hand-carved from mottled dark grey stone with light grey and beige inclusions. The recumbent reptile has a plump, slightly curved body with tightly retracted forelegs and hind legs, a protruding spinal column that courses down the back into the conical tail, a shallow ring around the neck, and a flat base with incised grooves denoting the bottom of each leg. The thick head bears a diamond-shaped profile and features a pair of drilled eyes separated with semicircular grooves, a smooth crest, and a tapered snout. The surfaces exhibit a pleasingly smooth texture, and oxidized iron soil deposits create an interesting coarseness in some areas. Lucite display stand for photography purposes only. Size: 12.1" L x 3.375" W (30.7 cm x 8.6 cm)
The rarity of this lizard effigy is derived from its overall size as well as the relative verism it exhibits. Traditional Mezcala stone sculptures feature a characteristic sense of stylization and abstraction that helped to influence the artistic stylings of minimalist and surrealist artists in the 19th and 20th centuries. According to author and scholar Dr. Carlo Gay, "Mezcala animal sculptures are usually small and, though devoid of details, convincingly represent the species intended. The majority are either carved from a banded green stone or from serpentine in the green and tan varieties. A lesser number are carved from calcite, andesite, diorite, and a mottled green-and-white stone. The fact that over 90 percent of animal effigies are either in banded green stone or serpentine, indicates that their use predominated relatively late in the course of the tradition, apparently in concomitance with the development of the human figures of the M-22 type." (Gay, Carlo and Frances Pratt. "Mezcala: Ancient Stone Sculpture from Guerrero Mexico." Balsas Publications, Geneva, 1992, p. 149)
Provenance: ex-private Meza family collection, Whittier, California, USA; ex-private Florida, USA collection, acquired in the 1960s; ex-Marlene Pineda collection, Spain, acquired in the 1950s
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Minor nicks and abrasions to tail, body, legs, and head, with light pitting, light oxidation from soil deposits across most surfaces, and light encrustations, otherwise intact and excellent. Light earthen and oxidized iron deposits and great traces of reptilian detailing throughout.