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An image and an amulet of nephrite from Costa Rica online

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INDIAN NOTES
AND MONOGRAPHS



VOL. VI




No. 4



A SERIES OF PUBLICA-
TIONS RELATING TO THE
AMERICAN ABORIGINES



AN IMAGE AND AN AMULET

OF NEPHRITE FROM

COSTA RICA



BY



ALANSON SKINNER



NEW YORK

MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN
HEYE FOUNDATION

1920



Publications of the Museum of the
American Indian, Heye Foundation



THE GEORGE G. HEYE EXPEDITION
CONTRIBUTIONS TO SOUTH AMER-
ICAN ARCHAEOLOGY
Vol. 1

The Antiquities of Manabi, Ecuador: A Pre-
liminary Report. By Marshall H. Saville.
1907. $25.00.

Vol.2

The Antiquities of Manabi, Ecuador: Final
Report. By Marshall H. Saville. 1910.
$25.00.

CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE MUSEUM

OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN,

HEYE FOUNDATION

Vol. 1

No. 1: Lucayan Artifacts from the Bahamas.
By Theodoor de Booy. Reprinted from Amer.
Anthropol., Vol. 15, 1913, No. 1. 50c.

No. 2 : Precolumbian Decoration of the Teeth
in Ecuador, with some Account of the Oc-
currence of the Custom in other parts of
North and South America. By Marshall H.
Saville. Reprinted from Amer. Anthropol.,
Vol. 15, 1913, No. 3. 50c.

No. 3: Certain Kitchen-middens in Jamaica.
By Theodoor de Booy. Reprinted from
Amer. Anthropol., Vol. 15, 1913," No. 3. (Re -
printed, 1919.) 50c.

No. 4: Porto Rican Elbow-stones in the Heye
Museum, with discussion of similar objects
elsewhere. By J. Walter Fewkes. Reprinted
from Amer Anthropol., Vol. 15, 1913, No. 3.
50c.



INDIAN NOTES
AND MONOGRAPHS



VOL. VI




No. 4



A SERIES OF PUBLICA-
TIONS RELATING TO THE
AMERICAN ABORIGINES



AN IMAGE AND AN AMULET

OF NEPHRITE FROM

COSTA RICA

BY

ALANSON SKINNER



NEW YORK

MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN
HEYE FOUNDATION

1920



This series of Indian Notes and Mono-
graphs is devoted primarily to the publica-
tion of the results of studies by members of
the staff of the Museum of the American
Indian, Heye Foundation, and is uniform
with Hispanic Notes and Monographs,
published by the Hispanic Society of
America, with which organization this
Museum is in cordial cooperation.



AN IMAGE AND AN AMU-
LET OF NEPHRITE
FROM
COSTA RICA

BY

ALANSON SKINNER



SKINNER— NEPHRITE



PL. I



ft ; 1

pjiJfoffi'n iiiTiC'^iiift^M




NEPHRITE IMAGE



AN IMAGE AND AN AMULET

OF NEPHRITE FROM

COSTA RICA

By Alanson Skinner



I



N AN unmarked grave at Las Mer-
cedes, Costa Rica, a nephrite im-
age (pi. i) was unearthed by the
Costa Rican expedition of the
Museum of the American Indian, Heye
Foundation, in 1916-17. It is 3| inches in
height, and represents a person with hands
folded on the abdomen, a posture not un-
commonly represented in the larger stone
idols of the district.

The figure wears a headdress which on
close examination appears to be composed
of two outward-facing jaguar heads. Facial
painting or tattooing appears in conven-
tional scroll designs on the cheeks, upper
chest, and arms.

The figurine seems to have been intended



111



INDIAN NOTES



VI



112


COSTA RICA




for use as an amulet or a pendant, as an
attempt has been made to perforate it
longitudinally, boring in from the head and
feet. The maker failed in his effort, how-
ever, since the two holes have not been
bored far enough to connect. The separa-
tion of the arms from the trunk, and the
space between the legs, have also been
effected by means of boring a series of
parallel and connecting holes, which have
been so run together as to make the cuttings
still plainly show the borings, and the gap
between the feet has cut into one side of the
longitudinal tunnel meant to receive the
suspending string. The figure is unique
among Costa Rican nephrite objects, and
no doubt was highly prized by its native
owner. Ramon, the "king" of the Bribri
of the Talamanca valley, once showed the
writer some long cylindrical stone beads
which he explained the natives valued at a
cow apiece. Gold ornaments, he averred,
were less costly, since they were relatively
easy to make, but these stone beads were
far more difficult to manufacture, especially
to perforate.


VI


INDIAN NOTES




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IMAGE AND AMULET



113



The nephrite amulet illustrated (pi. n)
is one of thousands of specimens taken from
the necropolis of Las Mercedes by the
Museum's expedition of 1916-17. It is
carved in a lacy pattern showing several
highly conventionalized figures, some of
which may possibly represent parrots. The
specimen is 1 J inch high, by If inch broad.

The work is unusually well done, even for
Costa Rica, and the polished light sea-green
of the nephrite lends a charming effect.
The form seems to be unique, and the object
surpasses ' in beauty any of the nephrite
amulets in the collection of the National
Museum at San Jose, Costa Rica.



AND MONOGRAPHS



'-£/-



No. 5: Note on the Archaeology of Chiriqui.
By George Grant MacCurdy. Reprinted
from Amer. Anlhropol., Vol. 15, 1913, No. 4.
50c.

No. 6: Petroglyphs of Saint Vincent, British
West Indies. By Thomas Huckerby. Re-
printed from Amer. Anlhropol., Vol. 16, 1914.
No. 2. 50c.

No. 7: Prehistoric Objects from a Shell-heap
at Erin Bay, Trinidad. By J. Walter Fewkes.
Reprinted from Amer. Anlhropol., Vol. 16,
1914, No. 2. 50c.

No. 8 : Relations of Aboriginal Culture and En-
vironment in the Lesser Antilles. By J.
Walter Fewkes. Reprinted from Bull. Amer.
Geogr. Soc, Vol. 46, 1914, No. 9, 50c.

No. 9: Pottery from Certain Caves in Eastern
Santo Domingo, West Indies. By Theodoor
de Boov. Reprinted from Amer. Anlhropol.,
Vol. 17', 1915, No. 1. 50c.

Vol.2

No. 1 : Exploration of a Munsee Cemetery near
Montague, New Jersey. By George G. Heye
and George H. Pepper. 1915. $1.00.

No. 2 : Engraved Celts from the Antilles. By
J. Walter Fewkes. 1915. 50c.

No. 3 : Certain West Indian Superstitions Fer-
taining to Celts. By Theodoor de Booy.
Reprinted from Journ. Amer. Folk-Lore, Vol.
28, No. 107, 1915. 50c.

No. 4: The Na.nticoke Community of Dela-
ware. By Frank G. Speck. 1915. $1.00.

No. 5: Notes on the Archeology of Margarita
Island, Venezuela. By Theodoor de Booy.
1916. 50c.

No. 6 : Monolithic Axes and their Distribution
in Ancient America. By Marshall H. Saville.
1916. 50c.






Vol. 3

Physical Anthropology of the Lenape or Dela-
wares, and of the Eastern Indians in Gen-
eral. By Ales Hrdlicka. (Bur. of Amer.
Ethnol., Bull. 62, 1916, with added title-page
and cover.) $1.00.

Vol. 4

No. 1 : The Technique of Porcupine-Quill Dec-
oration among the North American Indians.
By William C. Orchard. 1916. $1.00.

No. 2: Certain Archeological Investigations
in Trinidad, British West Indies. By Theo-
door de Booy. Reprinted from Amer. An-
thropol., Vol. 19, 1917, No. 4. 50c.

No. 3: The Nacoochee Mound in Georgia. By
George G. Heye, F. W. Hodge, and George
H. Pepper. 1918. $1.50.

Vol.5

No. 1 : A Letter of Pedro de Alvarado Relating
to his Expedition to Ecuador [15341. By
Marshall H. Saville. 1917. 50c.

No. 2 : The Dieguefio Ceremony of the Death-
Images. ByE. H.Davis. 1919. 50c.

No. 3: Certain Mounds in Haywood County,
North Carolina. By George *G. Heye. Re-
. printed from Holmes Anniversary Volume.
1916. 1919. 50c.

No. 4: Exploration of Aboriginal Sites at
Throgs Neck and Clasons Point, New York
City. By Alanson Skinner. 1919. $1.00.

Address :

Museum of the American Indian, Heye

Foundation,

Broadway at 155th St.,

New York City





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Online LibraryAlanson SkinnerAn image and an amulet of nephrite from Costa Rica → online text (page 1 of 1)