Artifacts - Mexico and Central America


Pale Green Jadeite

Costa Rican


circa 800 to 1500 AD

collected circa 1970


From a California private collection 

Very nice example of a Mayan greenstone or jadeite mace head from the Guanacaste Nicoya region of Costa Rica.  Pale green, slightly translucent stone.  Avian effigy form, probably a parrot or Curassow.  Classic disk shaped eyes and grooved crest.  

Sotheby's Nov 24, 1997 catalog item #245 and May 2, 1990 catalog item #286 are both very similar.

Jadeite was the most precious of all materials in the eyes of the pre-Columbian peoples of Costa Rica. Jadeite and greenstone were worked into a wide variety of items from tools and utensils to items worn as emblems of social and political power. Jade and Jadeite mace heads were not only functional as weapons, but were also a sign of wealth and prestige. Another common form was the axe god pendant, which was suspended from a cord around the neck. The name "axe god" comes from the form of the pendant, which replicates the shape of the traditional stone chopping tool (or axe). While most are anthropomorphic, some represent animals or supernatural beings.


Good condition with typical age wear.  No chips or cracks.  Please note; white lines are natural matrix of lighter material in the jade, not cracks.  Traces of soil from burial here and there.  No repairs.

dimensions: approx 1 1/2" wide x 2" high x 2 1/2" long 

Elegantly carved mace heads such as this one have been widely found in the Nicoya region of Costa Rica, and are made from various stones including chalcedony, diorite, granite, jadeite, jasper, nephrite, and serpentine. While their efficacy as weapons is unquestioned, the elegance of their carving may indicate that their use was largely ceremonial.

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