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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Stone Trophy Heads : Basalt Trophy Head
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Basalt Trophy Head - PF.4334
Origin: Costa Rica
Circa: 500 AD to 1000 AD
Dimensions: 11" (27.9cm) high
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Basalt

Location: United States
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This artifact is masterfully carved from a single piece of volcanic rock. The Costa Ricans only used stone and wood tools plus a few abrasives for carving. This dramatic trophy head is a prime example of Pre-Colombian Costa Rican religious ideology, manifested in the form of sculpted stone. In ancient Costa Rican religion, the act of human sacrifice served as a generator of agricultural fertility, and the human head was looked upon as the "fruit" of human life. Because the number of inhabitants in Costa Rica was increasing at this time, populations were constantly competing for the choicest, most fertile land. The resulting battles ended with the victors taking trophy heads, a ritual act that was looked upon as necessary for both agricultural fertility and the continuation of human life. Here we experience an artist's imaginative rendering of one such head. This particular artifact is adorned with a small cap, characteristic of the period. A simple rendering of the facial features results in a face that reveals a powerful energy, one that speaks of a people's understanding of the forces of nature and the rituals essential to their fruitful continuation. - (PF.4334)


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