Atlantic Watershed Jade Skull-Masked Figure Tubular Pendant - PF.5266
Origin: Eastern Costa Rica
Circa: 300 AD to 700 AD
Dimensions: 8" (20.3cm) high x 1" (2.5cm) wide x 1.125" (2.9cm) depth
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Style: Atlantic Watershed
Medium: Jade


The precise use of such tubular "beads" as this one is still a question of debate. Some have been found of remarkable length, (up to 50cm), and all of them have a hole drilled down the center. Considering the hardness of jade, this alone is a remarkable lapidary feat. The shape suggests they were used for ingestion of hallucinogenic substances. Yet, in this case, the horizontal hole between the figure's legs excludes this function. More probably, this beautifully carved tube was worn as part of the vertical or horizontal elements of an elaborate necklace; or as a handle of a scepter. Similar arrangements can be seen on freestanding stone sculptures of men wearing alligator masks and headdresses. The seated figure with a skull face wears a type of crown, with its hands positioned symmetrically on the knees in a ritual pose. Given the value of jade, (considered more precious than gold), and the masterful workmanship, this tube was most likely owned by a chief or high ranking priest, who wore it during important ceremonies. Whatever its original function, it still retains a power and aesthetic beauty that requires no explanation. - (PF.5266)



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