Artwork of the Week: March 20

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Mexico, Pre-Columbian, Duck. Black stone, probably Classic Period about 1–500 CE. Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, 1949.77. 6 5/8 x 6 3/4 x 4 in., Gallery 9

Mexico, Pre-Columbian, Duck. Black stone, probably Classic Period about 1–500 CE. Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, 1949.77. 6 5/8 x 6 3/4 x 4 in., Gallery 9

This sculpture, carved out of an unidentified hard, black stone, depicts a stylized duck with compact features. The small scale of the figure implies that it probably was meant to be seen at close range, which suggests an intimate relationship between the owner and the object. Although precise date and place of manufacture are unknown, the artwork is believed to have been carved in the Classic Period in Oaxaca, in southern Mexico. In Classic-era Oaxaca, the duck is thought to have served as a “totem”—that is, as a religious symbol for a group of people. The sculpture is one of only two known examples of its kind.


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