Warrior with Trophy Head
Not on view
A tradition of figural sculpture that emphasized militarism and warriors is thought to have developed in Costa Rica out of an increased competition for resources among a growing population. Presented in a rigid posture atop a pedestal base, this helmeted warrior holds a trophy head in his right hand and a short ax in his left. Elbows to his side and forearms thrust forward, he seems to be presenting them to the viewer, perhaps in tribute, perhaps as a warning. The figure wears a belt with panels above each hip. His conical helmet is of a type commonly seen in images of elite warriors in ancient Central America and Colombia. He wears a pendant in the shape of four curly-tailed animals lined up side-by-side, similar to gold ornaments known from the region (see MMA 66.196.36). There is evidence that gold was considered a protective substance in Precolumbian Central America and that warriors wore their gold ornaments into battle.
Hoopes, John. “Magical Substances in the Land Between the Seas: Luxury Arts in Northern South America and Central America,” in Golden Kingdoms: Luxury Arts in the Ancient Americas, Joanne Pillsbury, Timothy Potts, and Kim N. Richter, eds. (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2017), pp. 54-65.
Pillsbury, Joanne, Timothy Potts, and Kim N. Richter, eds. Golden Kingdoms: Luxury Arts in the Ancient Americas. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2017. See especially cat. no. 103, p. 195.
Quintanilla, Ifigenia. “Una escultura de la Gran Chiriquí en Nueva York y su confusa identidad.” Drama de las Esferas. https://ifigeniaquintanilla.com/2013/05/24/una-escultura-de-la-gran -chiriqui-en-nueva-york-y-su-confusa-identidad.
#1613. Warrior with Trophy Head
This artwork is meant to be viewed from right to left. Scroll left to view more.