Pre-Columbian, Guatemala Highlands, Mayan, ca. 250 to 900 CE. An exceptional carved volcanic stone owl sculpture, carved in the round and delineated with wide-open round eyes, a pointy beak, feathered wings, and a marvelous circular amulet that appears to be strung and tied around the bird's neck. The owl was widely symbolic in the Pre-Columbian world. Owls were considered Shamanic, guiding humans on their journeys to other worlds, the divine, and death - described in the Popol Vuh as messengers of Xibalba, the sinister underworld. In some cultures an anthropomorphic owl represented a warrior or war god. Also common were naturalistic depictions of barn owls. Size: 5.75" W x 8.875" H (14.6 cm x 22.5 cm)
This sculpture comes with authentication paperwork from Hasso von Winning, a leading expert of Mesoamerican art. Von Winning's statement reads in part, "A whimsical representation of an owl, resting on a square base, large and round eyes deeply carved in contrast to the small beak. This owl shows a pair of wings gracefully folded to the back, its claws are visible, and wears a necklace with a pendant, carefully knotted in the back. I have inspected this stone owl and it is an authentic Mayan artifact"
Provenance: ex private Southern California collection; ex Milton Birnbaum collection, Los Angeles, California, USA collection; comes with authentication paperwork from Hasso von Winning, Ph.D., Consultant in Mesoamerican Archaeology, Southwest Museum, Los Angeles, California, USA, dated June 19, 1977.
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Minor losses to periphery of integral plinth/base. Expected surface wear with nicks to high pointed areas. Nice tinges or red cinnabar remain on areas of the surface.