Arts of the Americas
On View: Luce Visible Storage and Study Center, 5th Floor
Preclassic Period or Middle Formative
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Olmec. Winged Figure, 800-500 B.C.E. Jadeite, 1 3/4 x 1 1/2 in. (4.4 x 3.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Private Collection, L65.7.2. Creative Commons-BY
overall, L65.7.2_transpc003.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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Jade carving of the upper torso and head of a small winged figure with the typical Olmec elongated, flattened head, drooping lips, and drilled ear lobes. The wings have been identified as those of a bat, a nocturnal animal associated with the darkness of the underworld. The wings also have scalloped edges and fine incised lines that recall the wings of a butterfly, a potent symbol of transformation. Four small drill holes along the edges of the wings may have been used to sew the figure to clothing or to a headress. The fact that this figurine was found in Costa Rica suggests that Olmec-style carvings were highly valued there, and indicate that extensive trading networks existed throughout Mesoamerica.
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