14423. Massive Costa Rican Stone Trophy Head
Atlantic Watershed Zone, Ca. 1000 to 1200 AD.
Meticulously carved from dense, sturdy volcanic rock, this male head of large solid mass has a tight fitted cap, large prominent nose and smooth idealized almond shaped eyes. This was not broken off of a larger statue, but rather carved as a head and neck in and of itself.
Szie 10-1/4 inches (26cm) H. Weight 26 pounds.
Artists in ancient Costa Rica commonly sculpted disembodied human heads which are probably meant to represent trophy heads - ethnographic accounts from the region tell of a tradition both before and after the Spanish Conquest of taking trophy heads as a result of warfare. Although their use of war as a tool for acquiring resources and consolidating control under specific leaders is the same as ours today, theirs also had a supernatural element to it - the taking of the head was seen as an organized form of violence related to shamanism, whose role was to protect the community from any evil, including disease and sorcery. If a shaman's head was taken, then due to his or her supernatural skills, it could still have power, even separated from the rest of the body. Looking at the fascinating face here, the artist's belief in this power is clear.
Provenance: Ex Collection of Raymond Enkeboll California.
See a similar example in Seeing with New Eyes, Highlights of the Michael C. Carlos Museum Emory University by R. Stone Miller, no.308.
Very fine example.
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