Hand Hacha

Date: 4th–7th century

Geography: Mexico, Mesoamerica, Veracruz

Culture: Veracruz

Medium: Stone

Dimensions: H. 7 1/16 x W. 5 1/2 x D. 5 in. (18 x 14 x 12.7 cm)

Classification: Stone-Sculpture

Credit Line: The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979

Accession Number: 1979.206.1042


In depicting human hands, this object represents a departure from the frequent hacha subject matter of a human or animal head. Similarly, the three-dimensionality of this stone ballgame sculpture is in contrast to the more common flattened and pointed shape that gives the hacha ("ax" in Spanish) its name. The artist has utilized incised lines to delineate the anatomy of the hands and carved depressions to depict fingernails. The hands appear closely fisted and placed back to back. The hands suggest they are bound like those of a captive or sacrificial victim, relating this object to the theme of sacrifice that predominates in ballgame sculpture of the El Tajín region.