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Artist/Maker: Greater Nicoya (Costa Rica)

Date: ca. 300-800
Medium: jade
Overall: 4 1/8 x 7/8 x 1/2 in. (10.5 x 2.2 x 1.3 cm)
Classification: Clothing, Accessories and Jewelry
Credit Line: Gift of Seymour Rosenberg
Object number: 72.016.052
DescriptionJade carving was likely introduced to the ancient people of Costa Rica by the Olmec of the Mexican Gulf Coast. This pendant is modeled after the lovely quetzal bird (Pharomachrus mocinno), one of the most dramatic and beautiful birds of the American tropics. The brilliant, iridescent green plumage of the quetzal is symbolized by the reflective, deep green color of the jade stone. Although highly abstracted, the characteristic tuft of feathers on the head of a quetzal is clearly indicated on this celt. Birds, and especially quetzals, were greatly admired throughout ancient Mesoamerica for their brilliant tail feathers that float behind them as they fly. It is likely that pendants such as this one were talismans that connected a persona of importance with their avian animal companion spirit.
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