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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Costa Rican Weapons : Guanacaste-Nicoya Mace Head in the Form of a Bat Head
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Guanacaste-Nicoya Mace Head in the Form of a Bat Head - PF.3164
Origin: Western Costa Rica
Circa: 1 AD to 500 AD
Dimensions: 4" (10.2cm) high x 7" (17.8cm) wide
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Stone

Location: United States
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The most feared and revered beast in Mesoamerica, the jaguar played a prominent religious role. Jaguars were important shaman creatures and in states of ritual transformation, humans changed themselves into jaguars from at least Olmec times onward. The shaman importance of animal transformation and animal spirits in Mesoamerica suggests remote hunter and gatherer origins from before the development of agriculture and food production. The pointed projection that forms the tail seems distinctly weapon-like, although that aspect may be symbolic only of domination or mastery in warfare. To assert lordly power, an enthroned chieftain kept this powerful stone mace head at his side. Along with the jaguar and weapon-like characteristics of this fascinating work of art, there are evidently alligator or shark-like characteristics, as well. This zoomorphic effigy may have been a clan symbol or deity representation, or may have had other symbolic significance. An incredible spectacle during rituals and ceremonies, this zoomorphic effigy mace head must have been held in the memories of all who witnessed the chieftain's display of authority and power . . . and it continues to capture our attention and remain in our memories today. - (PF.3164)


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