Diquis Gold Staff Head Featuring a Jaguar - FJ.5755, Origin: Diquis Zone of Costa Rica, Circa: 1000 AD to 1550 AD, Catalogue: V15, Collection: Pre-Columbian, Style: Diquis, Medium: Gold. Chiefs in Costa Rica competed among themselves for power of all kinds--for ritual and supernatural power, but also for power in the form of wealth and of trade goods from distant lands. Two important kinds of symbolic power possessed by chiefs were of jade and gold. Gold pieces, such as this magisterial gold staff head, were signifiers of political power and symbols of supernatural realms from which this power was thought to derive. The feline here is most probably the jaguar and represents a particular chiefdom. This ferocious jaguar appears dangerous to man with its grisly growl and piercing stare, revealing qualities that are exclusively worthy of the chief and the chiefdom to possess. The erect tail and ears display an enduring vigilance of the chief comparable to that which only the supernatural powers could sustain. We can be sure that the chief who possessed this magnificent gold piece had no difficulty at all in competing with other chiefs for power of any kind and was revered equally by both human and supernatural realms.
Ancient South America