Mesoamerican Masterwork -- a Maya Eccentric Flint -- Acquired by Dallas Museum of Art

Major New Acquisition Now on View

 The Dallas Museum of Art today announced the acquisition of a major work of ancient American art, the Eccentric flint with heads of K’awil, the god of royal lineage, from the Maya culture of Guatemala and Mexico (A.D. 600-900). Considered a masterwork of Mesoamerican art, the flint was acquired by the DMA as a bequest of Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence S. Pollock, Jr., and it is currently on view in the DMA’s fourth floor galleries of ancient American art.

“This flint is an impressive work of art, boldly conceived and impeccably executed,” said Bonnie Pitman, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. “We think that it and the DMA’s magnificent Eccentric flint depicting a crocodile canoe with passengers were found together. We are fortunate indeed to be able to reunite two flints here in Dallas.”

The Maya perfected the art of chipping flint to create flat blades for sacrificial and ceremonial use. The complex shapes of many of these objects, which are too fragile for use as cutting tools, have earned them the designation "eccentric flints." Archaeologists have found them in offertory caches associated with dedication and termination rituals for architecture and stone monuments.

Such symbolically charged objects may also have functioned as talismans for living kings. In terms of imagery, the most characteristic subject among eccentric flints is a human-like head shown in profile. These often have an element that projects from the forehead, such as the torch or axe that identifies K’awil, the god of royal lineage. This particularly elaborate flint depicts one of the K’awil heads in a negative space at the center. The space represents a portal, the entrance to the spirit world.

“The points that radiate from the outer edge are unusual and contribute to the dramatic effect of this wonderfully compelling object,” said Carol Robbins, The Ellen and Harry S. Parker III Curator of the Arts of the Americas and the Pacific, “and it is extremely exciting to have this exceptional and rare work of ancient American art join our collection.”

The Dallas Museum of Art’s collection of ancient American art, which includes more than 3,400 works of art spanning more than 4,000 years and representing fifteen countries, is of international significance.

About the Dallas Museum of Art
Located in the vibrant Arts District of downtown Dallas, Texas, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and groundbreaking educational programs. At the heart of the Museum and its programs are its encyclopedic collections, which encompass more than 24,000 works and span 7,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Established in 1903, the Museum today welcomes more than 600,000 visitors annually and acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary readings and dramatic and dance presentations.

The Dallas Museum of Art is supported in part by the generosity of Museum members and donors and by the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas/Office of Cultural Affairs and the Texas Commission on the Arts.