Atlantic Watershed Jade Mace Head in the Form of a Monkey - PF.3137
Origin: Eastern Costa Rica
Circa: 100 AD to 500 AD
Dimensions: 3.75" (9.5cm) high x 2.5" (6.4cm) wide
Catalogue: V15
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Style: Atlantic Watershed
Medium: Jade


In addition to being rare and beautiful, jade is the toughest and most durable of stones. Since weapons and cutting tools of jade greatly excel those of other stones, they became symbols of authority and ceremony. In elaborate burials and offerings, a high proportion of the surviving objects are made of jade, seemingly an indication that the material itself had assumed mystical qualities. In Mesoamerica, the stones selected by ancient people were predominantly green, although they may not have been jadeite or nephrite. Here, we have before us a rare and beautiful lapidary work of a ruler who has, through transformation, become a monkey. By adorning a monkey mask and tail and perhaps by taking hallucinogenic drugs, the ruler transforms himself into a monkey and becomes a channel for the supernatural world to speak and act through him. Through this transformational process, the ruler is seen as a god; thus, confirming his status as ruler and elevating his earthly powers over the people and land to supernatural powers, as well. This magnificent work of art was used as a mace head that is apparent by the circular indentation on the side. The top of the monkey’s head may have held a magical potion for transformational usages or held a crown which has deteriorated. The ruler may have kept this at his side at all times reaffirming his supernatural powers and instilling fear and awe in the people he ruled. The realistic features of a monkey’s face combined with the subtlety of the rounded shoulders and body reveal the artist’s exemplary skills at lapidary work. This is an unforgettable masterpiece that reveals an era of Renaissance during the Ancient Costa Rican past. - (PF.3137)



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