Palma: Eagle Attacking a Skull, Precolumbian, 300-900
Veracruz Stonework; Made in Mexico
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]
(Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, NY)