Pre-Columbian, Costa Rica, Nicoya culture, ca. 800 to 1200 CE. A beautiful pale blue-green limestone amulet, in the form of a crouched monkey, its body created through artful drilling and string cutting. The monkey rests atop a tall, narrow cylinder that is carved integrally, suggesting the form of an uncarved ceremonial hand axe. The monkey's neck is drilled through horizontally to allow the amulet to be worn. Monkeys abound in Pre-Columbian art, often used to satirize human behavior. The Nicoya would have been familiar with the red-faced spider monkey, the large black howler monkey, and the capuchin monkey, all of whom, especially the capuchin, are friendly animals who were likely kept as pets. The artist who made this piece may have been thinking of a particular animal. Size: 1.15" W x 5.3" H (2.9 cm x 13.5 cm); 6.45" H (16.4 cm) on included custom stand.
Provenance: private southern California, USA collection, acquired in the 1970s to mid-1980s
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