Recarved Pendant

11008382-1991_004_397_Apa_ARC.tif

Title

Recarved Pendant

Date

300 - 600 AD

Context

Late Period IV-Early Period V
Central America, Greater Nicoya, Costa Rica
Maya/Costa Rica Interaction

Medium/Dimensions

Omphacite
2 1/2 x 1 1/2 x 5/16 in. (6.3 x 3.8 x 0.8 cm)

Object Number

1991.004.397

Description

Hard, naturally green stones were highly prized not only in Costa Rica but in Mesoamerica as well, and therefore often traveled back and forth between the contiguous regions. This pendant has a hole running down the left side to be strung on a vine or sinew to make a spectacular necklace. A high-status man in Costa Rica probably wore it first, with the hole going horizontally as was preferred there. The original carving, of which a few lines remain, represented a figure holding a staff. Traded or stolen by the Maya, who wore their greenstones upright with beads strung around and below them, this second form was scratched over the first. It shows on top a snakelike bird, a harpy eagle (whose earlike feather tufts are seen to the left and sharply carved raptorial beak to the right), and below, a human skull. The Maya carved beads of skulls that look remarkably similar to this one. Harpy eagles are carrion eaters but were revered in ancient times as symbols of death and rebirth.

Finally, the piece was reportedly found down in northwestern Costa Rica, via trade or reappropriation. The long holes in the figures' mouths are typical of Costa Rican greenstone carving. The successive modifications of this intriguing piece demonstrate that not only was greenstone precious in all the areas with access to it, but also that lower Central American chiefdoms interacted on an equal basis with the more complexly organized city states to the north.

Credit Line

Ex coll. William C. and Carol W. Thibadeau

Exhibits/Publications

Seeing with New Eyes: Pre-Columbian Art from the Thibadeau Collection, Emory University Museum of Art and Archaeology, March 4 - October 13, 1992|
MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, September 2002 - June 2012|
MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, February 9, 2013 - Present
Michael C. Carlos Museum Handbook. Atlanta: Michael C. Carlos Museum (1996), 79.|
Rebecca Stone-Miller, Seeing With New Eyes: Highlights of the Michael C. Carlos Museum Collection of Art of the Ancient Americas (Atlanta: Michael C. Carlos Museum, 2002), 29, figure 35.|
Michael C. Carlos Museum: Highlights of the Collections (Atlanta: Michael C. Carlos Museum, 2011), 72.

Rights

© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Michael McKelvey.
This image is provided by the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University, who retains all rights in it. This image is made available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined by United States law. For all other uses, please contact the Michael C. Carlos Museum Office of Collections Services at +1(404) 727-4282 or mccm.collections.services@emory.edu. Users must cite the author and source of the image as they would material from any printed work, but not in any way that implies endorsement of the user or the user's use of the image. Users may not remove any copyright, trademark, or other proprietary notices, including without limitation attribution information, credits, and copyright notices that have been placed on or near the image by the Museum. The Museum assumes no responsibility for royalties or fees claimed by the artist or third parties. The User agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Emory University, its Michael C. Carlos Museum, its agents, employees, faculty members, students and trustees from and against any and all claims, losses, actions, damages, expenses, and all other liabilities, including but not limited to attorney’s fees, directly or indirectly arising out of or resulting from its use of photographic images for which permission is granted hereunder.

On View

Yes

Citation

“Recarved Pendant,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed April 19, 2018, http://carlos.digitalscholarship.emory.edu/items/show/7670.

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