Home > Art > Costa Rican Double-Headed Human Effigy Vessel and Lid
About the Object
The small vessel here was carved and polished from a green stone (probably jadeite) that has been rounded and shaped with two human-like heads facing opposite directions. These faces are wearing a headband, perhaps denoting a particular class or social standing such as a religious or political leader. The work also has a matching lid, which indicates that the piece transported a substance connected to an important ritual.
In pre-colonial Mesoamerica and Central America, jade objects were considered perhaps the most valuable objects created by human beings, as they were associated with fertility and agricultural cycles that sustained everybody else and were vital to maintaining social order. Such vessels would have taken a great deal of time and skill to fashion, while they could also be traded with other elites, or used throughout the year by the powerful. Given the size of this one, it may have held substances related to healing, psychotropic substances to aid spiritual journeys, or materials used in rituals related to, for instance, the maize harvest.
Spencer Throckmorton Collection, New York, NY;
Gift to The Jan T. and Marica Vilcek Collection, 2006;
Iman Issa receives the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Fine Arts for exploring, through works of various media, difficult philosophical questions, such as the individual’s relationship to places, figures, and events that are collectively familiar, or the difference between experience and recognition.
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