'Extra-terrestrial' Aztec obsidian

20/08/2015     Antiquities

One of the highlights in the upcoming Antiquities and Tribal Art sale is a funerary group of obsidian items, dating back from the Aztec Period in Mexico before the 16th Century and the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire. The group includes a ceremonial spear head, a pair of labrets and a pair of earspools (or ear plugs or ear stretchers whatever you think it’s easier).

Obsidian is a very abundant material in Mexico and it was revered by the Aztecs, not only for its remarkable sharpness to be used in the manufacture of weapons (obsidian is sharper than stainless steel and has been used in modern times for certain types of eye surgery), but also for the possibility of polishing it into wearable jewellery to be used by the aristocracy and clergy.

In particular, the flanges of the earplugs are polished into perfect circles of less than a millimetre in thickness, requiring incredible skill and precision from the Aztec craftsmen. Despite similar items having been well-documented throughout Mesoamerica, there are many questioning their origin, often suggesting an ‘extra-terrestrial’ provenance.

This group was purchased in the early 1970s from the renowned New York Tribal Art dealer, Harmer Rooke, and is now being offered with an estimate of £2,000 - £3,000.

Aztec craftsman or E.T. - it is impossible not to admire whoever created these examples of precision and simple beauty.

 

Aztec obsidian for blog