This greenstone yoke is likely a ceremonial representation of a lighter protective guard worn by Mesoamerican ballgame players. The batrachian creature carved in the center of the yoke, with its bulging eyes, small nostrils, and elongated mouth parted by a curving tongue, has been identified as a depiction of an earth monster who resides at the entrance to the underworld. Such imagery is appropriate for the ballgame with its resulting sacrifice of blood to nourish the earth and promote fertility. Into the pattern of interlaces and scrolls on each side of the yoke, the artist incorporated a low-relief depiction of a helmeted human head, perhaps a representation of a ballplayer. On each end of the U-shaped yoke is a profile depiction in higher relief of another human face.
[Stendahl Art Galleries, Hollywood, until 1956]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, on permanent loan to Museum of Primitive Art, 1956–1963; Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1963–1978
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Art of Oceania, Africa, and the Americas from the Museum of Primitive Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1969, no. 579.
The American Federation of Arts. Primitive Art Masterworks: an exhibition jointly organized by the Museum of Primitive Art and the American Federation of Arts, New York. New York: The American Federation of Arts, 1974, no 12.
Newton, Douglas, Julie Jones, and Kate Ezra. The Pacific Islands, Africa, and the Americas. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987.