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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Stone Trophy Heads : Basalt Trophy Head
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Basalt Trophy Head - PF.2578
Origin: Costa Rica
Circa: 1000 AD to 1500 AD
Dimensions: 5.25" (13.3cm) high x 4" (10.2cm) wide x 4.5" (11.4cm) depth
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Basalt

Location: United States
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Masterfully carved from a single piece of volcanic rock with only the use of stone and wood tools plus abrasives, this dramatic trophy head is a prime example of Pre-Columbian 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 at this time was increasing, populations were constantly competing for the choicest, most fertile land. The resulting battles ended with the victor 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, adorned with an elaborate hairdo, 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 deep understanding of the forces of nature and the rituals essential to their fruitful continuation. - (PF.2578)


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