Pre-Columbian, Central America, Costa Rica, ca. 1 to 800 CE. A huge, blue-green celt pendant, smoothed and rounded on one side and unfinished, with a groove on the other. A large perforation has been drilled laterally through its narrow end. Celts, also known as hand axes, had meaning beyond weaponry, especially when made of jade. The jadeite used to make this example is of a gorgeous blue-green, with a swirling surface whose depths look almost like the surface of the sea on a windy day. Size: 2.45" W x 5.85" H (6.2 cm x 14.9 cm); 6.4" H (16.3 cm) on included custom stand.
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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