Art of the Americas - Maximon Figure, Guatemala

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Maximon devotional figure
Western Highlands, Guatemala
Wood, cloth, fiber, paper, straw
12" (30.5 cm) high, 7" (17.7 cm) wide, 6" (15.2 cm) deep
Early to mid-20th century
From a private San Francisco collection

Maximon is one of the more mysterious and enigmatic religious icons of the western highlands of Guatemala, and his identity is associated with San Simon, Judas Escariot, Mam, Pedro de Alvarado and others. He is plyed with liquor and cigars, fancy silk scarves, money and incense to cure disease, remove curses, divine the future, cure infertility, bless crops, win lawsuits and perform other miracles. He is considered a guardian of moral behavior, but is also associated with vices and sexual disorder.

Maximon figures often have cigars placed in their open mouths. Under his jacket are photographs of two young men that have been pierced with pins, which likely held them to his gauze undershirt. His wooden chair is missing one leg, but the stability is maintained.


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