This comes from an art dealer's site, http://ancientartifax.com/precol.htm where they describe it like this:
Fine Vera Cruz whistle figure of Xipe Totec, the Flayed God. Xipe Totec was among the most important of the Mesoamerican deities. Being the god of springtime his worship was crucial to the success of planting and crops, and consequently to the survival of those who depended upon it. As a result, increasingly elaborate and gruesome ceremonies were carried out in his honor. Annually, individuals (likely slaves) were selected as sacrifices to Xipe Totec. These victims were carefully flayed to produce the skin which was then worn by the priests during the fertility rituals that followed the sacrifice. To mimic the action of the corn bursting from its husk in springtime, priests of Xipe Totec wore the flayed skins during important ceremonies to appease the god in hopes for a lush harvest. Xipe Totec, "our lord the flayed one", originated during the Teotihuacan culture and continued in importance into Aztec times. In Aztec mythology, Xipe Totec was the life-death-rebirth deity, god of spring, agriculture, and the seasons. He supposedly flayed himself to give food to humanity, symbolic of the maize seed losing its outer layer before germination. He represented the fertility cult and was said to assist the earth in making her new (reborn) each spring.
This piece shows one such Xipe Priest wearing a drooping skin mask, excess skin is shown in twists by his neck. He sits enclosed within a "corral" which represents a finely carved wooden litter, upon which he would be carried and paraded through the streets as part of the spring celebration. He wears a decorative headdress and necklace. The Xipe Priest and the litter sit atop an elaborate whistle mechanism (ocarina). Two large spheres are joined in the back by a dual mouthpiece, creating an interesting double whistle. Covering the holes in the front changes the sound(s). The combination of the two whistles emits an eerie, haunting sound, unlike anything I've ever heard. A third whistle on the back of the head gives a more high-pitched tone.
Condition is generally excellent. There is a single repaired neck break and minor repair to the whistle behind the head. Also, a portion of the headdress has been restored, else intact and near choice. An exceedingly rare and culturally significant artifact. Seldom seen in today's market.
For more in depth information on Xipe Totec and other Mesoamerican deities, see "The Flayed God" by Roberta & Peter Markman.
Approx 4" across x 7" tall. $3000.
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