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Important Olmec Jade Incised Drug Spoon - Jaguar Claw

Pre-Columbian, Mexico or Guatemala, late Olmec to early Mayan, ca. 400 BCE to 1 CE. A rare and desirable jade drug spoon in the form of a curved jaguar claw, its surface on one face incised with a serpent motif colored with bright red cinnabar and on the other face carved to have a shallow groove in the form of a real claw - made to be used for preparing hallucinogenic drugs to be consumed by shamans and elites during rituals and ceremonies. The jade is a very pale blue green, and is expertly carved. It is drilled through near the top, made to be worn when not being used. Size: 1.15" W x 3.5" H (2.9 cm x 8.9 cm); 4.5" H (11.4 cm) on included custom stand.

Research in the late 1990s and early 2000s pinpointed the source of "Olmec blue" jadeite at being in the lowland Motagua River near the modern day border of Guatemala and Honduras; stone from this source was carved and traded widely throughout early Mesoamerica. The value of jade for ancient people lay in its symbolic power: perhaps its color was associated with water and vegetation; later, the Maya would place jade beads in the mouths of the dead. Many scholars have argued that the demand for jadeite contributed to the rise of long distance trading networks and to the rise of urban centers in ancient Mesoamerica. This would have been an exceedingly valuable and rare ceremonial item.

Condition: Excellent preservation of motifs, with much of the original cinnabar remaining. Very light surface deposits and some signs of wear commensurate with age.

Provenance: private Southern California, USA collection, acquired in the 1970s to mid-1980s

All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

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