Masterfully flaked in red-orange obsidian, this incredible large bifacial leaf blade prestige weapon is a hallmark object of extreme wealth of the elites that once ruled the Pre-Columbian Western Mexico Shaft Tomb Culture. It was blades like these that were wrapped on one end and used in human sacrifice to remove the beating hearts from victims still alive. Most often found "sacrificed" (broken in two as an offering to the gods) this remarkably well-made blade is UNBROKEN and features magnificent parallel pressure-flaking across its entire surface. This stunning flaking can be seen in the photos above, and were responsible to create the perfect willow leaf shape and thin cross-section, terminating into two sharply pointed ends, also both still intact.
While ceramics were the most common goods of this culture, obsidian work like this was much more scarce, found in only the most prestigious burials of the noble ruling elite. An absolute impressive piece and in such a beautiful hue of red-orange obsidian! The naturally lustrous soil sheen shows off the expert workmanship of this weapon of royalty. Ancient calcite mineral deposits and sediment can be seen deep in flake scars which are indicators ONLY found in AUTHENTIC specimens such as this. Caution must be applied in acquiring AUTHENTIC ancient obsidian artifacts because the stone does not patinate on the surface like other lithic types.
Obsidian was prized by the ancient Pre-Columbian Indians and even today, it is still used in modern medicine for scalpel blades as obsidian can flake to an edge one molecule thick, thereby attaining a level of sharpness impossible to achieve with a steel scalpel. As a matter of fact, aside from using lasers in modern surgery, the preferred scalpel is one from obsidian. Because of its sharpness, obsidian leaves less of a scar and does less tissue damage than a scalpel or knife made of any other substance known to Man. Obsidian is 15 times sharper than surgical steel, It’s no wonder that obsidian became a valuable tool in medicine and warfare when you consider that at an obsidian scalpel can rival diamond in the fineness of its edge. Common household razor blades are 100 times thicker than obsidian!
The Western Mexico shaft tomb tradition refers to a set of interlocked cultural traits found in the western Mexican states of Jalisco, Nayarit, and, to a lesser extent, Colima to its south, roughly dating to the period between 300 BC and 400 AD, although there is not wide agreement on this end date. The region was not a unified cultural area and archaeologists, still struggle with identifying and naming the ancient western Mexico cultures of this period.
The Western Mexico shaft tombs are characterized by a vertical or nearly vertical shaft, dug 3 to 20 metres down into what is often underlying volcanic tuff. The base of the shaft opens into one or two (occasionally more) horizontal chambers, perhaps 4 by 4 metres (varying considerably), with a low ceiling. The shaft tombs were often associated with an overlying building. Multiple burials are found in each chamber and evidence indicates that the tombs were used for families or lineages over time. The labor involved in the creation of the shaft tombs along with the number and quality of the grave goods indicate that the tombs were used exclusively by the society's elites and demonstrate that the shaft tomb cultures were highly stratified at this early date. Shaft tombs themselves, are not encountered elsewhere in Mesoamerica and their nearest counterparts come from northwestern South America.
Grave goods within these tombs include hollow ceramic figures, obsidian and shell jewelry, semi-precious stones, pottery (which often contained food), and other household implements such as spindle whorls and metates. More unusual items include conch shell trumpets covered with stucco and other appliques. Unlike those of other Mesoamerican cultures such as the Olmec and the Maya, shaft tomb artifacts carry little to no iconography and so are seemingly bereft of symbolic or religious meaning.