Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Yoke

Date:
10th–4th century BC
Geography:
Mexico, Mesoamerica, Guerrero
Culture:
Olmec
Medium:
Stone, pigment
Dimensions:
H. 7 1/2 x W. 5 7/8 x D. 6 in. (19.1 x 14.9 x 15.2 cm)
Classification:
Stone-Sculpture
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1969
Accession Number:
1978.412.39
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 358
A prime example of a Preclassic Mesoamerican "yoke" (so named for its formal similarity to modern agricultural yokes), this stone sculpture contains a serene portrait. The human face was formed in low relief and contains full lips, a broad nose, carved out eyes with incised brows, and ears. The ear lobes are portrayed as stretched and large drillholes could have been used to affix ear ornaments to the visage. The hairline is cut away from the surface of the stone, perhaps to contain an inlay. Light geometric incisions on the face may represent tattoing or scarification. The form of the object could indicate that it was used as part of a belt assemblage for an early version of the Mesoamerican ballgame.
Wolfgang Paalen, Guerrero, Mexico, 1954(?)–1957; [Everett Rassiga, New York, 1957–58]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1958–1963; Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1963–78

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. 561.

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. 3.

Newton, Douglas. Masterpieces of Primitive Art: The Nelson A. Rockefeller Collection. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978, p. 56.

Coe, Michael D., ed. The Olmec World: Ritual and Rulership. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Art Museum, 1996, 138, p. 239.

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