Description: Pre-Columbian, Central America, Costa Rica, ca. 600 to 800 CE. A beautiful, abstract pendant in the form of a seated bird, made of highly polished, pale blue green jadeite. Creating using string cutting, drilling, and sandstone smoothing techniques, the bird has a huge crest and a long, straight tail, giving the impression of the bright, tropical bird it probably depicts. It is drilled through for suspension on its lower body. Size: 2.4" L x 0.4" W x 1.45" H (6.1 cm x 1 cm x 3.7 cm)
The value of jade for people in ancient Central America lay in its symbolic power: perhaps its color was associated with water and vegetation; later, the Maya would place jade beads in the mouths of the dead. Many scholars have argued that the demand for jadeite contributed to the rise of long distance trading networks and to the rise of urban centers in ancient Mesoamerica. Jade would have come to Costa Rica in the form of axe-blades (celts) that would then be worked by local artisans into pendants like this one. The exoticism of stone that had traveled so far probably contributed to the value of these objects in ancient Costa Rica. By 800 CE, gold had replaced jade as the prestige material.
Provenance: private Vaught Collection, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
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Condition Report: Two small chips from surface, with encrustation inside.
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