Figure-Celt Pendant

Date: 1st–5th century

Geography: Costa Rica

Culture: Guanacaste-Nicoya

Medium: Jadeite

Dimensions: H. 6 1/2 x W. 1 1/2 in. (16.5 x 3.8 cm)

Classifications: Stone-Ornaments, Jade

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1993

Accession Number: 1993.114


Many bird-form pendants of Costa Rica feature a lower section shaped like a workaday celt or ax. The stone celt of teardrop shape was the common working tool in the ancient Americas, and in some instances the shape itself took on greater, perhaps even sacred, significance. The lower part of this pendant is an example of how the celt shape was integrated into prized personal ornaments. At the top of the pendant, the bird aspects are stylized in a presentation known in greater detail from other jade pendants. To the modern eye, the minimal rendering of the crested bird headdress, the large, flattened earflares, and the acutely angled beak creates the impression of a helmeted warrior or spaceman. Costa Rican bird pendants fall into given groups based on style and imagery, but individual differences also characterize and distinguish them one from the other.