05 June 2012

Human face profile sculpture identified by Jim May also includes a mammoth form, a second human face at its posterior, and a bird

Jim May find, Washougal, Washington, mouth of the Columbia River Gorge. Human left facial profile with mouth agape. Scale is in inches.

I noticed at this orientation, a mammoth or mastodon form in left profile may be seen. Its forehead is in the upper left with a semi-circular carved eye. (click photos to expand view)

To further support the idea of an intended mammoth form in this sculpture, an anthropomorphic face can be seen on the posterior of the mammoth. Here, an eye and a red mouth line have been added on top of a concavity and an incised mouth line in the stone in order to highlight them. A face at the posterior of animals and birds in sculpture is a known motif in figure stones described by Alan Day, seen on this blog and described by Pietro Gaietto of Italy.

A bird in right profile view atop the human head. Eye markup added to orient figure. The "bird at crest of head" iconography has also been described by Alan Day, site 33GU218 located on his property, Day's Knob, in Guernsey County, Ohio. The bird's posterior and the human's nose are the same element in the stone. The bird and the elephant also share the same eye. Please note the continuation of the carving lines to create a feature below the beak highlighted in white, beyond the point where they intersect, showing two, confident, stroke actions by the artist to execute the pointy feature.

A possible interpretation here of the shared human nose and bird posterior, as indicated by the arrow in the photo, is "the human breath of life becomes bird waste" as a symbolic representation of funerary practices in which birds are utilized to dispose of human remains.

This close up of the form at the beak of the bird shows a possible anthropomorphic head with face details. Alan Day has also described the human form at the mouth of the bird in figure stones from Day's Knob, Ohio. See Jim May's Facebook album link titled "Small faces," and showing some of the small carved faces Jim identified on additional finds at Washougal, Washington.

-kbj

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