Pre-Columbian, Mexico to Guatemala, Olmec culture, ca. 10th to 6th century BCE. A stunning speckled dark green jade piece, finely polished and presenting incised wing detailing on the back. The jade features translucent crystalline inclusions. This pendant is pierced twice for suspension behind the head. It represents an eagle or a hawk, creatures who were powerfully symbolic in ancient Mesoamerica and a common feature of Olmec artwork. They were symbols of the sun and warfare. Size: 1.8" L x 3.4" W x 0.7" H (4.6 cm x 8.6 cm x 1.8 cm)
Research in the late 1990s and early 2000s pinpointed the source of Olmec jadeite at being in the lowland Motagua River near the modern day border of Guatemala and Honduras; stone from this source was carved and traded widely throughout early Mesoamerica. 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 Toronto, Ontario, Canada collection; ex-Artemis Gallery; ex-private Hawaii, USA collection; ex-private Hans Juergen Westermann collection, Germany
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Intact with light wear on surface commensurate with age.