American Southwest Stone Idol
Anthropomorphic stone carving, dug from the earth in central New Mexico in the early 1900’s on the property of ‘Pop’ Clem Shaffer.
Clem Shaffer arrived in the Mountainair area around 1908 with his wife Lena. Pop and Lena purchased land, operated multiple businesses, and owned as many farms as twenty 160 acres farms in the Mountainair area. The Shaffer family collected interesting objects they discovered from the turned soils of their farms and soon amassed a large collection of found objects from prior cultures.
Pop and Lena Shaffer built a hotel in Mountainair after their blacksmith shop burned down. This was the beginning of Pop’s artistic career. Pop decorated the hotel with designs and colors inspired by the local native peoples and, using over 900 stones, decorated a ‘fanciful fence’ bordering the hotel courtyard. With his artistic appetite whetted, Pop later opened a workshop and created folk art sculptures on his property Rancho Bonito and a few miles out of Mountainair. Rancho Bonito and the hotel are still open today.
This basalt figure was found on a Clem Shaffer property in the early 1900’s and was gifted to Clem’s son Martin Shaffer when Clem Shaffer passed. When Martin passed, the idol was given to Martin’s daughter, Martina Shaffer.
This stone idol is likely from the Ancestral Puebloans, who inhabited this region since 1500 BCE, or the Jumano peoples that followed and occupied the area until about 1750.
The Jumano were first encountered and described by Spanish explorers in the 16th century. The Jumano abandoned these lands around 1750 AD due to changing weather patterns, which made farming and hunting no longer viable in the area, and exposure to disease, warring and slave trades due to the arrival of Spaniards seeking gold.
The idol depicts a vertical anthropomorphic figure with shoulders raised toward the head, arms down to the sides and bent inward along the torso with open hands and fingers holding the belly. Wide open eyes and closed mouth with pursed lips, the head is turned slightly to the right. There is a notch at the center top of the head, possibly depicting parted hair. One could theorize this is a female form as there appears to be breasts, and the hands holding the belly give an impression of a female figure with child. Possibly a fertility figure.
A heavy metal stand with a soft foam interior has been crafted to display the sculpture, allowing the figure to rest in a seat and stand vertically.
The figure stands approximately 21 inches tall including the stand.
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