Pre-Columbian, Central America, Costa Rica, ca. 1 to 800 CE. Carved from a very pale greenstone, this is a gorgeous pectoral in the form of a double-headed serpent, its mouth drilled into openwork forms, with four additional drilled holes for attachment. The eyes are partially drilled, while incised lines form an abstract, skin-like surface texture. Size: 5.05" W x 2.45" H (12.8 cm x 6.2 cm)
Snake/serpents provide a fascinating element of Pre-Columbian iconography. They were regarded to be a beneficial source of nourishment and at the same time quite deadly with their poisonous venom. Also important to the indigenous was the fact that snakes shed their skin annually thus rejuvenating themselves and serving as symbols of renewal and good health. The existence of two heads on this piece may suggest the bicephalic serpent which was a signifier of high rank in various Pre-Columbian world views. These two-headed beasts were regarded as sky bands that arched over the earth or surrounded the seas serving as a passageway for the planets and stars of the celestial realm. This motif decorated articles associated with individuals of high rank, thus associating them with the powers of this mighty creature.
Provenance: private southern California, USA collection, acquired in the 1970s to mid-1980s
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Very light scratching on surface. Undecorated back has an area of staining from wax.