Atlantic Watershed Basalt Trophy Head of a Noble

SKU PF.3039
Circa

500 AD to 1000 AD

Dimensions

8.25″ (21.0cm) high x 6″ (15.2cm) wide x 6.5″ (16.5cm) depth

Medium

Basalt

Origin

Eastern Coast of Costa Rica

Gallery Location

UK


 

The Romans were quite fond of portraiture busts of emperors, elites and their beautiful wives and children. The kings of Africa are carved in wood and the nobles of Europe are sculpted in marble. There appears to be a universal desire in humanity to have portraits set in marble, wood, stone or other available material to ensure their immortality and to legitimize their leadership and importance during their lifetime. It is no wonder that we find portraiture in the Pre-Columbian cultures, as well. In Costa Rica, the available material for portraiture busts was volcanic rock (basalt) and its primary symbolic value was the expression of elite authority over labor and land which is not that different from the ancient Roman, African, European or Near Eastern cultures. There is evidence in Costa Rica that stone sculpture, such as this portraiture bust, was intended for public ritual and was installed in at least a semi-architectural context. To carry out such projects including the sculpture and architecture must have been a demonstration of economic and political authority, once again, not that different from the Roman Emperors and their sculptural and architectural achievements. The dignity and solemnity of expression on this nobility suggests that he was highly revered and respected by the community. His headdress overtly displays the tremendous strength and fortitude of the man. The jaguar, the most important and feared symbol of the Mesoamerican cultures, comprises the absolute authority of political, military, agricultural and religious rights. As the elephant became the authoritative symbol to African cultures and the lion to Near Eastern cultures, the jaguar became the authoritative symbol to the Pre-Columbian cultures. Whether it is elephant, lion or jaguar and whether it be marble, wood or stone the cultures across this world appear to be united in a single thread of similar Universal desires and fears.

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