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Rare Colima Clam Shell Lizard Pendant

Pre-Columbian, West Mexico, Colima, ca. 300 BCE to 300 CE. I love this piece! A well-carved and surprisingly naturalistic pendant made from a white clam shell in the form of a lizard with a fat tail - possibly a gila monster, although their range is a little far north of West Mexico (this said, local people certainly could have seen one brought by traders - we know of other long distance game trading networks throughout this region). Size: 1.55" W x 0.95" H (3.9 cm x 2.4 cm)

The shell has a very slight iridescent sheen, and incised lines form even scales over the body. A diamond-shaped face with projecting eyes and lifelike limbs complete the image. If it is a gila monster - and the fatness of the tail, unless it is an artistic liberty, suggests that it is - then it may have had mythological implications for its wearer. The gila monster is one of only two known venomous lizards in North America, and Native Americans in the southwest believe that it has a spiritual power than can cause sickness.

Condition: Some surface encrustation and wear, but form and details are excellent.

Provenance: Ex-Harvey Collection, acquired prior to 1972

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