Pre-Columbian, Olmec culture, ca. 1150 to 550 BCE. A gorgeous pale blue-green jade piercer made for bloodletting with a simple form that is shaped like a serpent whose body dramatically narrows and foreshortens into the piercing spike at its tail. A drilled hole in the wider part of the body would allow this to be worn or to be attached to a belt. The serpent's head is enhanced by lightly incised motifs, including eyes, a long mouth with a curved snout, and eight dots atop the head, perhaps meant to replicate scales. These dots are colored with pale red cinnabar; the other incised eyes may have been similarly colored once. Size: 0.95" W x 6.4" H (2.4 cm x 16.3 cm); 6.95" H (17.7 cm) on included custom stand.
Unlike the later Maya, we have not found any representations of ritual bloodletting in Olmec art. However, jade and ceramic perforators as well as representations of such paraphernalia on stelae and in iconography provide evidence of its practice among the Olmec. For example, a translation of the Epi-Olmec culture's La Mojarra Stela 1 tell of the ruler's ritual bloodletting. The value of jade for ancient people lay in its symbolic power: perhaps its color was associated with water and vegetation; later, the Maya would place jade beads in the mouths of the dead. Many scholars have argued that the demand for jadeite contributed to the rise of long distance trading networks and to the rise of urban centers in ancient Mesoamerica. This would have been an exceedingly valuable and rare piece of ceremonial art.
Provenance: private Newport Beach, California, USA collection
All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.
A Certificate of Authenticity will accompany all winning bids.
We ship worldwide and handle all shipping in-house for your convenience.
Light wear to surface commensurate with age and handling. Nice preservation of motifs. Some of the original cinnabar pigment remains.