Pre-Columbian, Southern Mexico to Guatemala, Olmec culture, ca. 1150 to 550 BCE. A gorgeous very pale green jade pendant in the form of a curved blade, with a concentric incised motif forming a border on one side of the pendant face. The upper end is perforated for suspension, while the lower end terminates in a tapered blade edge. The blade form and jade material indicate that this is probably an effigy of a tool used for ritual bloodletting. Size: 1.1" W x 4.7" H (2.8 cm x 11.9 cm); 5.95" H (15.1 cm) on included custom stand.
Bloodletting seems to have been a common ritual in Olmec society, although most of what we can surmise about it we know from the later Maya, who emulated the Olmec practice. We know that the Olmec used shark's teeth, stingray spines, obsidian blades, and other sharp items to perforate the skin, and they have been found at Formative period sites like La Venta, San Jose Mogote, and Chalcatzingo. There are also stone recreations of these items - for example, the jade effigy of a stingray spine found in a tomb at La Venta.
Provenance: private Los Angeles County, California, USA collection
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