Pre-Columbian, Costa Rica, Guanacaste / Nicoya region, ca. 500 to 1000 CE. A hand-carved stone axe celt depicting a transforming shaman with both human and jaguar features. This nearly white stone has etched lines that begin with angular arms and rise up to a mouth groove, triangular lines for nose, drilled circular eyes, and incised lines on the top of the head indicating a headdress. Mostly human, but with details such as claw-like paws, it represents a shaman transforming into a jaguar. A finely carved celt, laterally drilled through the neck for suspension or attachment. Size: 1.5" W x 4.5" H (3.8 cm x 11.4 cm)
The green stone was symbolic of agricultural fertility and was carved with images of deities or animals, which would imbue powers to the owner. The jaguar was regarded as a deity traveler between the living and underworld. Shamans ritualistically transformed into jaguars to gain this power and humans-with jaguar details, such as this piece, are popular themes in Pre-Columbian pieces.
Provenance: ex-private Tennessee, USA collection; ex Arte Primitivo Gallery, New York, New York, USA
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Expected softening to details commensurate with age. Surface wear and minor nicks to edges. Blade is smooth and perforated to wear as a pendant. Mineral deposits across the surface.