A Costa Rican Masked Axe God Celt, Early Classic Period, ca. 300 - 600 CE
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Costa Rican jade pendants are often in the form of "axe-gods," in which an effigy carving of an animal, person, or a combination thereof, surmounts a smooth blade in the form of a polished axe or celt and is drilled transversely for suspension. These celts were not functional weapons, but rather badges of office, status, or clan-type affiliation, and were worn on the person as pendants. Purposefully shaped like functional axes or celts, these highly-prized pendants gave recognition to the importance of the working tools used in agriculture and forestry.
This example, from the Guanacaste-Nicoya region of Costa Rica, is carved in the form of an axe god wearing a mask with slashed mouth, upturned nose, and slashed downturned eye holes, the god's own round eyes underneath, with arms crossed over the chest, the bottom edge carved into a blade, pierced through the neck for suspension.
For a related example, see: Dumbarton Oaks, accession number PC.B.226.
Dimensions: Height: 4 1/4 inches (10.75 cm)
Condition: Intact and in very good condition overall with only minor chips along the celt's edge. Custom mounted.
Provenance: Mirtha Virginia de Perea (1929 - 2019) private collection of Costa Rican art. Mrs. de Perea spent her entire 48-year career with the Embassy of Costa Rica in Washington, DC, achieving the rank of Cultural Minister-Counselor and Consul after having started as a secretary. She was a devoted patron of the arts, promoting numerous local artists and sponsoring many cultural events throughout her career. She also amassed an impressive collection of Latin American art. After retiring in 1999, she became a US citizen and continued her support of the arts through her membership in the Women’s Committee of the Washington National Opera and other local groups.
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