Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Warrior with Trophy Head

A.D. 300–800
Costa Rica
Chiriquí, Aguas Buenas Phase
Volcanic stone
H. 34 3/4 x W. 11 1/2 x D. 9 5/16 in. (88.3 x 29.2 x 23.6 cm)
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 199
Holding a trophy head in his right hand and a stone ax in his left, this warrior wears a conical headdress or helmet and a curly-tailed animal pendant. The animal, duplicated four times, bears attributes of the capuchin monkey and the coatimundi, a member of the raccoon family.

Esta escultura representa un guerrero sosteniendo su trofeo (una cabeza) en su mano derecha y un hacha de piedra en la izquierda. Además, lleva puesto un tocado cónico o un casco y un colgante. El animal, reproducido cuatro veces, tiene atributos de los monos capuchino y coatimundi, una especie de la familia de los mapaches.

Further information
A tradition of figure sculpture that glorified 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. Around his neck is suspended a large pendant that is similar in detail to known objects in gold. There is evidence that gold was considered a protective substance in Precolumbian Central America and that warriors wore their gold ornaments into battle.
#1613. Warrior with Trophy Head
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[Stendahl Gallery, New York, until 1955]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1955, on loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1956–1978

Lines, Jorge A. "Un usekara Huetar en morfologia Brunka." In IInternational Congress of Americanists (I.C.A.), 33rd. Vol. vol. 2. Hudson, NY: Periodicals Service Company, 1959.

Museum of Primitive Art. Masterpieces in the Museum of Primtive Art: Africa, Oceania, North America, Mexico, Central to South America, Peru. Handbook series. New York, NY: Museum of Primitive Art, 1965, no. 74.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Art of Oceania, Africa, and the Americas from the Museum of Primitive Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1969, no. 541.

The American Federation of Arts. Primitive Art Masterworks: an exhibition jointly organized by the Museum of Primitive Art and the American Federation of Arts, New York. New York: The American Federation of Arts, 1974, no. 24.

Newton, Douglas. Masterpieces of Primitive Art: The Nelson A. Rockefeller Collection. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978, p. 148 (right).

Newton, Douglas, Julie Jones, and Kate Ezra. The Pacific Islands, Africa, and the Americas/The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987.

Pillsbury, Joanne, Timothy Potts, and Kim N. Richter, eds. Golden Kingdoms: Luxury Arts in the Ancient Americas. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2017, no. 103, p. 195.

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