Celts, or hand axes, such the one seen here were carved and polished from dark green jade in the forms of animal, human, and likely supernatural figures. This particularly fine work has been expertly fashioned into the shape of a parrot. The handle of the celt contains the parrot’s face, beak, large eyes, head plumage (suggesting avian mating rituals), and cuts indicating the body, wings, and legs/feet of the bird. Meanwhile, the long tail constitutes the blade of the hand axe.
Jade was perhaps the most precious material among societies in Mesoamerica and what is today Central America. Birds such as eagles and parrots were associated with fire and the sun, which Mesoamerican cultures acknowledged as vital for sustaining all life in the universe. Connections to the sun and the notions of fertility and the renewal of life often associated with jade may have also been believed to infuse this object with additional reverence.