Ceremonial Celt Figure
300 BCE - 300 CE
6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm)
Mezcala; made in Guerrero, Mexico
Medium and Support:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur L. Stern
Location: Currently on view
In Ancient America, a variety of green stones – sometimes called jadeite or jade – were highly-prized, valuable materials. While the types of stones and the actual greenness vary, a symbolic association linked them to water and plant growth. The hard stone was sculpted by abrading it with other stones, which was a slow and arduous process. The durability and strength as well as the attractive, shiny surfaces would have contributed to the overall value of green stone and these celt figures.
This green stone figure is an anthropomorphized celt, or axe-head. The frequency with which the Mezcala people made celt figures with human characteristics can perhaps be explained by the animistic belief that animals, plants, rocks and objects have spirits. The celt was a multi-use working tool that was passed down through generations. Because of its highly-valued role and ancestral connotations, the celt form took on symbolic value in ritual objects, some of which were worn by individuals.
[Gallery label text, 2009]