About A.D. 1–500
Costa Rica, Greater Nicoya/Central region
Gift of Frederick and Jan Mayer, 1994.799
Small yet intricate, this blue-green jadeite pendant may have been recarved in ancient times. Oriented vertically (holes drilled horizontally through the neck allowed it to be suspended in this way), the pendant is fundamentally human in form, with an erect posture, turned-out feet, and hands lying flat on the chest. Atop the head is a small, supine animal (perhaps a feline) with flexed paws and a curled tail. Holes drilled through the left side of the figure’s abdomen also permitted the pendant to be worn horizontally, probably its original orientation. The pendant’s earlier form may have been a reptilian creature with a raised ring in the center of the body and a bifurcated tail. The motivation for such a dramatic modification of the ornament is uncertain. Some ancient Costa Rican jades were reworked because they had been broken. That does not appear to be the case here – the celt, or axe, shape of the original jade blank is complete. But fine jade, imported from its distant source in Guatemala, was a valuable material, even if the object carved from it had become obsolete for some reason.
- "Pre-Columbian Art of Costa Rica: From the Collection of Jan and Frederick R. Mayer"— Clara A. Hatton Gallery, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, 2/(?)/1977- 3/4/1977
- Maxwell Museum, Albuquerque, NM, 10/12/1977- 5/30/1978