Guanacaste-Nicoya Jade Mace Head Depicting a Harpy Eagle

SKU PF.2179

300 BC to 300 AD


5.5″ (14.0cm) high




Western Costa Rica

Gallery Location



Throughout history, kings and chieftains have carried staffs and scepters as symbols of worldly power. In Ancient Costa Rica, individuals of rank as well as clans and warrior societies used ceremonial maces, derived from weapons of war, as tokens of status and insignias of office. This splendid example shows a revered sacred bird, perhaps the harpy eagle, a condor or a vulture, whose head springs from a rounded mace of green jade. Carried atop a wooden staff, such an object would have won respect for its owner. Large birds of prey were often associated with magic men and royalty, for they were felt to be all seeing and strong, solitary and yet regal. Though we can never know for certain who carried this mace so long ago, we can feel its undiminished aura of authority and power.

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