Basalt Trophy Head

SKU PF.3034

100 AD to 500 AD


11.5″ (29.2cm) high x 8.5″ (21.6cm) wide x 10.5″ (26.7cm) depth




Costa Rica

Gallery Location



This basalt stone head with a stoic face carries an unusual ambience and weight. Although the head is depicted with simple incision lines, one cannot escape its poignant sense of presence, like that of a real human head. Estranged from the body, the stone head's deep-set, stoic closed eyes and mouth creates an esoteric mystery. Because Costa Rica was a tribal culture, the significance of its art is largely unknown. The mystery of the basalt stone head, then, is up to the viewers to decipher. The large stone head is decorated with a flat cap that is ornately enhanced with patterns. Perhaps such beautiful and yet stern stone sculpture had a funerary ritual significance, meant to represent or portray the deceased, or perhaps such basalt head is a possible symbol of human sacrificial ritual, which was a common practice in the Ancient Costa Rica. During this period, people took trophy heads in battles for human sacrifice because they believed that such practice was necessary to maintain the agricultural fertility. Mesoamericans believed in their humble position and their duty to offer the best for God's mercy. The agricultural prosperity depended upon human sacrifice and this basalt stone head well indicates the people's desire for God's mercy.

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