ANTHROPOMORPHIC HACHA, MEXICO (VERACRUZ)
A.D. 600-900; Carved stone; On stand: 8" x 6" x 4 1/2"; Provenance: Allan Stone Collection, New York
Sale Price: $2,625
Estimate: $2,000 - $4,000
Mesoamerican ballplayers wore protective gear called hachas, palmas, and yokes to protect their hips and abdomens from the impact of the game's solid rubber ball. In painting and sculpture, the yoke is shown worn around the player's hips, the palma or hacha attached at the front. Those used during active play were most likely made of wood or some other light material; stone versions such as this one were worn, if at all, during ballgame-related rituals, or placed on display. Hachas also vary greatly in form and size, so much so that they qualify as a group only in contrast to the taller and thinner palmas. There are hachas in the form of human or animal heads, full figures, and human hands. Given the distinctive design of each hacha, both those worn and those carved in stone may have served to identify teams or individuals.
Earley, Caitlin C. "The Mesoamerican Ballgame." In The Hilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/mball/hd_mball.htm (June 2017) Scott, John F. "Dressed to Kill: Stone Regalia of the Mesoamerican Ballgame". In The Sport of Life and Death, The Mesoamerican Ballgame, E. Michael Whittington, ed., pp. 50–63 New York: Thames and Hudson, 2001. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/310599