Veracruz, Mexico

Early Protoclassic period, 100 BCE – CE 100

Remojadas Greenstone, carved and polished with original painted surface

15″ in length

Very fine condition with slight ancient pitting at the arm ends; beautiful mineral and soil deposits, overall

Provenance: Harmon collection, TX, before 1970

This important ballgame yoke depicts a toad – an amphibian held in high regard in pre-Columbian times for its aggressive, lightning fast hunting skills and insatiable appetite.These batrachian creatures have been called “Earth Monsters,” a name inspired from the Nahuatl name Tlaltecuhtli meaning earth goddess.  

The creatures’ eyes, nostrils, large, wide mouth, and enlarged parotid glands (seen just behind the eyes and above the front legs) have been expertly sculpted onto the compact, U-shaped form.  

The earliest carved yokes, such as this superb example, come from the vicinity of El Carrizal in the Remojadas region of central Veracruz. 

See AT THE HEART OF ANCIENT AMERICA: THE GERARD GEIGER COLLECTION, 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2003, page 78, fig. 22, for the type