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Palma: Eagle Attacking a Skull

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Palma: Eagle Attacking a Skull

300-900
Precolumbian
10 7/16 x 4 3/4 x 6 11/16 in. (26.5 x 12 x 17 cm)

Unknown, Veracruz
Mexican

Object Type: Stonework
Medium and Support: Limestone
Credit Line: R. T. Miller Fund
Accession Number: 1944.66
Location: Currently on view
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In the Mesoamerican ballgame, players on the losing team were sometimes sacrificed by decapitation in rituals following the game. Skull racks displaying decapitated heads were often located adjacent to ball courts. This ceremonial stone palma (a stone version of a piece of the ballplayer’s equipment) depicts an eagle attacking a human skull. This is a common motif in ballgame imagery and may reference the flesh-eating birds that gorged themselves on the bodies of the sacrificed victims.
[Gallery label text, 2009]

Provenance
Adelaide Frank, Leonia, NJ and Mexico; purchased from her by Brummer Gallery, New York, January 25, 1936 [catalogue number N3755]; purchased from them by the Gallery in 1944

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