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Warrior With Trophy Head Sculpture and Its Value

Abstract

The tradition of figural sculpture that emphasizes the role of warriors presents significant research opportunities, especially in the context of Costa Rican art, the history of which relies heavily on militarism. Warrior with Trophy Head is a sculpture depicting a helmeted warrior holding a trophy head in the right hand and a short ax in its left. The artwork was chosen for further analysis because of the opportunity to study the context and the circumstances of its creation, especially in terms of the culture and the events of the time when it was made. The material used for the sculpture, which is volcanic rock, also offers vast opportunities for research since the medium could have some significance to the tribe or community to which the Warrior with Trophy Head belonged. Using both primary and secondary information sources, this research aims to provide an in-depth look into the meaning and cultural value of the statue, with a focus placed on the minute details of the composition and the symbolic nature of the components of the sculpture.

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Annotated Bibliography

Bray, Warwick. 2003. “Gold, Stone, and Ideology: Symbols of Power in the Tairona Tradition of Northern Colombia.” In Gold and Power in Ancient Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia, edited by Jeffrey Quilter and John Hoopes, 301-344. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks.

Bray’s (2003) work Gold and Power in Ancient Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia, explores certain stone and gold artifacts. The author suggests that they played the role of symbols of rank, status, and power in South America’s ancient times. Through exploring multiple museum collections containing various gold and stone artifacts, Bray (2003) offers a comprehensive history of art, placing a significant focus on the meaning and the role of the artifacts. Since the work considers the importance of ritual in the life of ancient South Americans, the information can be applied to provide background knowledge for this paper.

Carod-Artal, Francisco Javier. 2012. “Skull Cult. Trophy Heads and Tzantzas in Pre-Columbian America.” Revista de Neurologia 16 (55): 111-120.

In their article, Carod-Artal (2012) explores the notion of the skull cult as a cultural tradition dating back to the times of the Neolith. It was predominantly manifested through trophy heads, skull masks, shrunken heads, and molded skulls. In Mesoamerica, the decapitation of a warrior or any individual for that matter was the first step to mortuary treatment, which resulted in having a trophy head to be used further for a skull mask or a skull to tzompantli. It was interesting to read about tzompantli, which refers to a procedure where the heads of victims were preserved. Tzompantli bears importance to the study of Warrior with Trophy Head because the head that the warrior is holding could have represented the method.

Hoopes, John. 2007. “Sorcery and the Taking of Trophy Heads in Ancient Costa Rica.” In The Taking and Displaying of Human Body Parts as Trophies by Amerindians, edited by Richard Chacon and David Dye, 444-480. New York: Springer.

Hoopes’ (2007) approach to the subject matter is important to the current research as the scholar acknowledged that disembodied human heads were ubiquitous in the Pre-Columbian iconography of Costa Rica, where the ethnographic accounts made it clear that the taking of human skulls as trophies was one of the characteristics of pre-and post-Spanish conquest (Hoopes, 2007). Such trophies in the form of human heads bore different forms, ranging from ceramic vessels to sculpted stone heads, and were represented both as decorative motifs or tools used for the preparation of non-food items. The source is valuable for its analysis of different examples of trophy heads in ancient Costa Rican sculpture and the exploration of not only the meanings behind such works of art but also the use of materials such as gold and stone.

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Schott, Amy. 2009. “A Comparison of Iconography from Northwestern Costa Rica and Central Mexico.” Minds Wisconsin Edu. Web.

The study by Schott (2009) is a comprehensive work comparing the iconography of central Mexico and Northwestern Costa Rica, suggesting that certain types of pottery from the Middle and Late Polychrome Periods pointed to links between the two cultures. By using the analysis of the iconography from both regions, the researcher explored how it changed over time and how it compared between cultures. The source is valuable for its multi-dimensional perspective of the history of Costa Rican iconography, its influences, and developments.

Taube, Karl Andreas. 2018. Studies in Ancient Mesoamerican Art and Architecture: Selected Works by Karl Andreas Taube. San Francisco: Precolumbia Mesoweb Press.

This resource provides a comprehensive exploration of South America’s ancient iconography and includes examples depicting various aspects of the life of the population. Warrior iconography represents a significant part of the art of that time because it was a significant component of the daily life of the population. The information provided by Taube (2018) could be used in the current paper by offering a historical perspective on the depiction of warriors in the ancient art of South America, showing its key trends and characteristics. The range of examples provided by the author also offers opportunities for comparative analysis of artworks.

Verano, John. 2008. “Trophy Head-Taking and Human Sacrifice in Andean South America.” In The Handbook of South American Archaeology, edited by Helaine Silverman and William Isbell, 1047-1060. New York: Springer.

The work by Verano (2008) is important for the understanding of the history of human sacrifice in ancient South America and connecting the knowledge to the symbol of the trophy head that is present in the sculpture. By using both direct and indirect sources, ranging from ethnohistoric works to iconographic depictions of actual processes of human sacrifice, the author explored the historical accounts of trophy-taking. The direct archaeological evidence of human sacrifice is deemed important for either confirming or questioning the events inferred from both iconographic and ethnohistoric sources. The research can be used in the paper for explaining the purpose behind the human sacrifice, which is directly related to the sculpture in question.

Bibliography

Bray, Warwick. 2003. “Gold, Stone, and Ideology: Symbols of Power in the Tairona Tradition of Northern Colombia.” In Gold and Power in Ancient Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia, edited by Jeffrey Quilter and John Hoopes, 301-344. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks.

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Carod-Artal, Francisco Javier. 2012. “Skull Cult. Trophy Heads and Tzantzas in Pre-Columbian America.” Revista de Neurologia 16 (55): 111-120.

Hoopes, John. 2007. “Sorcery and the Taking of Trophy Heads in Ancient Costa Rica.” In The Taking and Displaying of Human Body Parts as Trophies by Amerindians, edited by Richard Chacon and David Dye, 444-480. New York: Springer.

Schott, Amy. 2009. “A Comparison of Iconography from Northwestern Costa Rica and Central Mexico.” Minds Wisconsin Edu. Web.

Taube, Karl Andreas. 2018. Studies in Ancient Mesoamerican Art and Architecture: Selected Works by Karl Andreas Taube. San Francisco: Precolumbia Mesoweb Press.

Verano, John. 2008. “Trophy Head-Taking and Human Sacrifice in Andean South America.” In The Handbook of South American Archaeology, edited by Helaine Silverman and William Isbell, 1047-1060. New York: Springer.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, February 19). Warrior With Trophy Head Sculpture and Its Value. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/warrior-with-trophy-head-sculpture-and-its-value/

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StudyCorgi. "Warrior With Trophy Head Sculpture and Its Value." February 19, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/warrior-with-trophy-head-sculpture-and-its-value/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "Warrior With Trophy Head Sculpture and Its Value." February 19, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/warrior-with-trophy-head-sculpture-and-its-value/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Warrior With Trophy Head Sculpture and Its Value'. 19 February.

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