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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Stone Trophy Heads : Guanacaste-Nicoya Basalt Trophy Head
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Guanacaste-Nicoya Basalt Trophy Head - PF.3544
Origin: Guanacaste, Nicoya, Costa Rica
Circa: 500 AD to 1000 AD
Dimensions: 11.75" (29.8cm) high x 8" (20.3cm) wide x 10" (25.4cm) depth
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Basalt

Location: United States
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This powerful depiction of a male head remains something of a mystery for it is in keeping with the common renderings of 'trophy heads' which represented the sacrificial beheading of a captive, the piece's very weight and hollow nature are puzzling. Often a trophy head would be ceremonially mounted on a pole and carried during rituals. However, the heavy and cumbersome basalt does not lend itself well to this function. Further, the execution of the eyes is uncommon. They were usually represented as either sewn shut or as opened, not hollowed out. This leads to speculation that this head was ritualistically employed as a cover to an incense burner issuing smoke from the opened mouth and eye sockets. Other features of the head are more familiar such as the highly conventionalized ears and 'woven' headband and topknot. This stands as both a remarkable piece of art as well as a wonderfully successful example of Costa Rican ingenuity and spirit. - (PF.3544)


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