This carved piece is an iconic crouching big cat, likely a lion or jaguar. Although it has a mane that leads us to believe it's a lion, similar imagery can be found in art from Latin America, and those are typically considered to be jaguars. (See last photo for a similar style from the Mexican National Museum archives.) This piece is carved from a single piece of wood, and the carving style is primitive. There are two inlaid stones, likely lapis lazuli, inlaid for eyes, but other thatn that, the peice is simply somewhat rough cut wood. The hand patina points to it being older, and I estimate it to be from the 1970s or earlier. From a website about this icon: "The representation of jaguars in Mesoamerican cultures has a long history, with iconographic examples dating back to at least the mid-Formative period of Mesoamerican chronology. The jaguar (Panthera onca) is an animal with a prominent association and appearance in the cultures and belief systems of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican societies in the New World, similar to the lion (Panthera leo) and tiger (Panthera tigris) in the Old World. Quick, agile, and powerful enough to take down the largest prey in the jungle, the jaguar is the biggest felid in Central or North America, and one of the most efficient and aggressive predators. Endowed with a spotted coat and well adapted for the jungle, hunting either in the trees or water, making it one of the few felines tolerant of water, the jaguar was, and remains, revered among the indigenous Americans who live closely with the jaguar. All major Mesoamerican civilizations prominently featured a jaguar god, and for many, such as the Olmec, the jaguar was an important part of shamanism. For those who resided in or near the tropical jungle, the jaguar was well known and became incorporated into the lives of the inhabitants. The jaguar's formidable size, reputation as a predator, and its evolved capacities to survive in the jungle made it an animal to be revered. The Olmec and the Maya witnessed this animal's habits, adopting the jaguar as an authoritative and martial symbol, and incorporated the animal into their mythology. The jaguar stands today, as it did in the past, as an important symbol in the lives of those who coexist with this feline." I have found contemporary wood carvings that are similar in Mexico and Central America and also Brazil. This piece is unsigned except for possibly what looks to be an E on one side. I can't be sure that is what the scratches represent, as they could have been added later or even be natural lines and crevices. The wood is soft and again has a lovely hand patina with rounded edges in some spots.
Measures 9-5/8" long by 1-7/8" deep and about 4-3/8" tall. Weighs 9.8 ounces unpacked. No major chips.
For the person who loves all primitive art with powerful symbolism.
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