Prismatic Blade

Prismatic Blade

Black obsidian blade with beveled edges on three sides and sharp point on one end. The blade appears to be a singular sliver that was pressure flaked from a larger obsidian core then flintknapped unifacially to obtain needle-like shape. Profile reveals a slightly convex bend and the squared tip, opposite that of the point, is practically paper thin. With beveled edges on three sides and sharp, needle-like point on one end. Nearly paper-thin. Obsidian blades of this sort are sometimes known as bloodletters. Bloodletting, or the drawing of blood from the human body, was a widespread religious act in ancient Mesoamerica. The most common form of bloodletting was "autosacrifice," where one pricked his/her earlobe, tounge, elbows, knees, or genitals with a sharp, needle-like device and drew blood that was offered to the gods. Although the Central Mexican cultures primarily used the spine of the Maguey plant as the needle, the Maya more commonly used stingray spines or specially made bone or obsidian tools similar to this one. Among the Maya it was customary to let the blood drip onto bark paper, which was then put in a bowl and burned to create a dark smoke through which they communicated with the ancestral gods.
  • Object: Prismatic Blade
  • Artist: unknown
  • Circa: pre-columbian
  • Dimensions: 3 1/2" x 3/16" x 1/8"
  • Culture Area: Mesoamerica
  • Cultural Group: Maya
  • Cultural Context: Obsidian blades of this sort are sometimes known as bloodletters. Bloodletting, or the drawing of blood from the human body, was a widespread religious act in ancient Mesoamerica. The most common form of bloodletting was "autosacrifice," where one pricked his/her earlobe, tounge, elbows, knees, or genitals with a sharp, needle-like device and drew blood that was offered to the gods. Although the Central Mexican cultures primarily used the spine of the Maguey plant as the needle, the Maya more commonly used stingray spines or specially made bone or obsidian tools similar to this one. Among the Maya it was customary to let the blood drip onto bark paper, which was then put in a bowl and burned to create a dark smoke through which they communicated with the ancestral gods.
  • Donor: Spires, Will
  • Catalog #: 97.050