Mexico’s obsidian deposits are the third largest obsidian deposits in the world and are located west of the city of Guadalajara. These obsidian deposits are archaic only by the deposits of the Oregon Plateau and Africa’s Rift Valley. Obsidian is formed when lava cools or is degassed in different ways.
The Obsidian in West Mexico probably started as lava oozing from the cracks in the side of the Tequila Volcano millions of years ago which was after the volcano’s more striking eruptions into the air. More lava came forward less than 90,000 years ago from the Colli area where presently we find the Primavera Forest. This resulted in the Tequila-Colli axis becoming one of the world’s impressively large ancient mining zone for this natural glass which provided the pre-Columbian inhabitants of what is currently western Mexico with a priceless “gift of the gods,” which clearly created their destiny.
Huge chunks of obsidian are made into objects with the use of bare hands and a saw. These chunks of obsidian are made into sleek ultra-modern sculptures all appearing to be black. These pieces are attractive with some representing animals and some are just simple forms of very chic objects which are black and all beautifully polished.
These objects or spheres are made of sangre-de-indio (Indian Blood) obsidian and must be taken into the sun in order to appreciate their colors. It’s amazing how a tear-shaped piece that seems black in the indoor shade will come to life in the sunlight, illuminating bright bands of color profoundly beneath the surface. This is known as rainbow obsidian. Some of the pieces when turned in the sunshine will glimmer with a golden or silver shine.
The Navajas artisans started by creating small butterflies and hearts. As time passed, they were given clay models made by accomplished Mexican sculptors and they were dared to render the works of art in obsidian. Soon afterwards they were creating elegant sculptures which have found their way to museums and overseas. The sangre-de-indio obsidian is from a hill just outside Navajas, but place with the best obsidian comes from a little town about 65 kilometers north of there.
Archeologist Rodriguo Esparza, who is referred to as “the Obsidian Detective,” explained that the colors in obsidian come from traces of different minerals embedded in it. A minuscule amount of iron gives you red, while a tiny bit of copper makes it green. “Neutron Activation Analysis gives us a printout of every last trace element in a piece of obsidian,” says Esparza. They have exact measurements of rare elements like rubidium, LaB6 Tube
and molybdenum and they can now prove that an obsidian artifact unearthed in California originally came from an obsidian mine in the Mexican state of Jalisco.
It has been learned about the many ways obsidian was used in the past. No metal knife on earth can have as sharp an edge as an obsidian blade because obsidian is glass and has no crystal structure, while metals are limited to the makeup of their crystal restrictions. An obsidian scalpel is many times sharper than a metal one.
Obsidian was used to make the ‘macahuitl,’ a flat wooden sword tipped with obsidian blades. It was also used to make arrowheads, scrapers, jewelry and a wide range of other objects.
The most inquisitive obsidian deposit is the mine of San Isidro Mazatepec, which can only be entered by crawling on one’s hands and knees and it has a colony of vampire bats that are not happy about any intrusion.