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Rock crystal skull
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LARGE QUARTZ CRYSTAL skulls such as this began to surface in public and private collections during the second half of the nineteenth century. Some of them have been attributed to the work of Aztec, Mixtec or even Maya stone workers. Others are said to be examples of post-Conquest Mexican art for use in churches, perhaps as bases for crucifixes.

This skull was said to have come from Mexico, brought to Europe by a Spanish officer before the French occupation (1862-7). The Museum’s Department of Scientific Research has concluded however that the quartz crystal is likely to have come from Brazil, a relatively recent source of crystal. Moreover, it bears traces of the use of a jeweller’s wheel, which was unknown in the Americas before the arrival of the Europeans.

These traces and the high polish of its surface also indicate that it was carved using traditional European techniques.

Rock crystal skull

Probably European, 19th century AD
Ht 25 cm

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