Pre-Columbian, Costa Rica, ca. 200 to 600 CE. Finely carved and string cut from beautiful jade of mottled seafoam green hues, an axe god representing two animals - an abstract bird form when viewed on one side and a crocodile when viewed on the other. Birds were understood as sky animals associated with the celestial realm that served as messengers between humankind and their deities. The Crocidilia order comprise of crocodiles, smaller alligators, and yet smaller caymans were treated similarly in Pre-Columbian mythology. The crocodile being the oldest (approximately 55 million years old) was understood as a crocodilian earth monster and is oftentimes shown giving rise to what was known as the World Tree. Partial to a watery habitat, the crocodile is also a metaphor for fertility. Perforated through crocodile's eyes/birds headdress; laterally perforated through neck for suspension. Size: 3.75" L x 1" W (9.5 cm x 2.5 cm)
Costa Rica, along with Mesoamerica, is one of the two regions where jade was extensively carved in the Pre-Columbian world. The earliest example of worked jade, a pendant excavated from a burial site on the Nicoya Peninsula, dated to the mid-first millennium BCE. It appears that jade continued to be carved into personal ornaments, usually depicting animals such as birds, monkey, or frogs, until approximately 700 CE when gold became the favored material to fashion such ornaments.
Provenance: private Vaught collection, Atlanta, Georgia USA
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