Jones, Julie, "Jade in Ancient Costa Rica"

Posted By: TimMa
Jones, Julie, "Jade in Ancient Costa Rica"

Jones, Julie, "Jade in Ancient Costa Rica"
Publisher: Metropolitan Museum of Art | 1998 | ISBN: 0870998781 | English | PDF | 127 pages | 19.62 Mb

This well-illustrated catalogue reviews current information on the jades and on their archaeological context, images, and relationship to the jades of Mexico and the Maya area.

Published in conjunction with its namesake Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition (September 16, 1998-February 28, 1999), this finely illustrated catalogue providing context to pre-Columbian works of jade tempts one to see the originals from Costa Rica's Museo del Jade Marco Fidel Tristan Castro and elsewhere. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Philippe de Montebello

Melania Ortiz Volio


Julie Jones

1. The Archaeological Context of Jade in Costa Rica
Juan Vicente Guerrero M.

2. Mesoamerican Jade and Costa Rica
Mark Miller Graham

3. The Imagery and Symbolism of Precolumbian Jade in Costa Rica
Michael J. Snarskis

4. The Collections of the Mudeo del Jade Marco Fidel Tristán Castro, San José
Zulay Soto Méndez

Checklist of the Exhibition

By James Kielland
To understand the history of pre-Columbian Costa Rica it is necessary to understand the importance of jade. Beyond the esthetic symbolism of jade and what it represented to the cultures who traded it, jade also marks the beginning of heightened social complexity. Interestingly, no sources of Jade have been discovered within Costa Rica. While it is possible that sources existed and were either completely exploited or were somehow lost (due to geological upheaval, for example) and have yet to be re-discovered, it is most likely that the jade pieces discovered in Costa Rica were produced from raw materials quarried far to the north in the land of the Olmecs and the Maya. The development of jade production was made possible by more advanced social organization and simultaneously led to more trade and cultural interaction, bringing along with it not just an exchange of materials but most likely a further exchange of ideas between the cultures of pre-Columbian Central America. As a result, when jade appears in the archaeological record of Costa Rica it is accompanied by significantly richer cultural development.

Since the book description on this page is rather incomplete, I'd like to take a moment to briefly describe the contents. This book consists of 4 chapters: "The Archaeological Context of Jade in Costa Rica" by Juan Vicente Guerrero, "Mesoamerican Jade and Costa Rica" by Mark Miller Graham, "The Imagery and Symbolism of pre-Columbian Jade in Costa Rica" by Michael J. Snarskis, and "The Collections of the Museo del Jade" by Zulay Soto Mendez. While each article is great it is Snarskis' contribution that stands out in my mind. The book also contains an exhibition catalog of jade artifacts, an extensive bibliography, and thorough index. While the volume is slim at 144 pages, keep in mind that the price is also modest. And those 144 pages are used very wisely; there is a lot of useful information in this slim volume. In short, this is a useful volume for any scholar with an interest in pre-Columbian history.

There is a useful selection of maps and diagrams, and the photographs are of wonderful quality. While there is a large number of photographs of jade artifacts, what is notable is the size and quality of many of the photographs. Most of these photographs are by Joseph Coscia Jr., of the Photograph Studio of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Coscia's use of lighting in his photographs is superb, with the shadows serving to perfectly bring out the texture and the detail of the pieces. The lay-out, typesetting, and photographs all come together to create a book that is lovely to look at even if you can't read English. In a word, this volume is beautiful.

Obviously such a book has a rather limited audience. Scholars in such fields as art history and archaeology of pre-Columbian Central America will certainly find this volume useful, and it certainly belongs on the shelves of larger public libraries and in community college libraries that have a strong art or history focus. And obviously, this volume belongs in the library system of any university. Any educated person with an interest in art and history would benefit greatly from reading this book before vacationing in Costa Rica. It's the perfect preparation to get the most out of a day at the Jade Museum located in San Jose.

Jones, Julie, "Jade in Ancient Costa Rica"