In 2001, while hunting bear on the Pintlar Range, behind the Anaconda Mountains in Montana, Don Monroe found this mysterious sculpture at 8,000 feet.
His hunting partner, Don Massey was about to shoot a bear when Don Monroe saw an odd rock. Using his hunting knife, he freed it from the hard packed dirt where it had been for who knows how long?? How could it have gotten there? Who left it there? Why? Where did it come from? Who sculpted it? Is it modern or ancient? What art period does it fit? Why is the stone so heavy? What or who does it depict? Did a local band of thieves steal and then lose it?
Don Monroe contacted Joe Taylor at the Mt. Blanco Fossil Museum. “My first impression was the style looked Art Deco, 1920s. The craftsmanship is excellent, though it appears to be unfinished. The hair is rough sculpted and seems to have been intended to be in three waves in back. Around the right cheek and chin, the graving looks more recent than the rest. Was it by the artist or someone since Don found it? It looks like it has been broken off a body. The over all shape is like a 5X5 in square stone pole. This may be the reason the tip of the nose is the same plane as the lips. In that respect, it looks African. The lips are small and are set out from the face. One sees this in ancient Peruvian and Mexican art. NAJA is Indian for snake, so Don Monroe named it Naja Man. An old ad reflects that idea. How in the world did this strange sculpture end up buried at 8,000 feet?!
Does it have a beard or a long chin? Is the left side a chin? Or is it the serpent-like creature coming from its mouth or just its jaw line? Is that a serpent wrapped around the man’s head? There are many ancient depictions of serpents on the top of people’s heads. Or…is it not a snake, but a lizard? I can not think of a snake that has a ridged head; most are flat. Lizards are more apt to have a ridged head, dinosaurs included. The shape that comes down to the left eye, is it the front leg of a lizard or part of the serpent? The left eye is barely visible, and the right eye is not human. There are scratches on the flat back. Were they to be sculpted? It is 4 ½ in wide and 6 ½ in. high. Weighs 11 lbs. They mined there since the wild west days. This art does not fit.
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