Olmec Greenstone Celt - PF.6195, Origin: Mexico, Circa: 900 BC to 300 BC, Dimensions: 6.5" (16.5cm) high x 1.875" (4.8cm) wide, Collection: Pre-Columbian, Style: Olmec, Medium: Greenstone. Considered the mother culture of Mesoamerica, the Olmecs are one of the oldest and richest civilizations ever to inhabit the Americas. Today, they are remembered foremost for their colossal heads of rulers or gods. Their artistic influences and religious traditions were absorbed and adapted by the many diverse cultures that followed them, from the Mayas to the Aztecs. Although highly stylized, almost to the point of abstraction, the human face carved on this celt, a type of prehistoric tool shaped like an ax head, has taken the form of the “were-jaguar.” This name describes a mythical half-man/half-jaguar hybrid creature that characteristically features the puffy, fat cheeks and jowls of a human baby with the slanted eyes and down-turned mouth of a jaguar. The “were-jaguar” is thought by schools to depict a shaman in the midst of transmogrification. Thus, it is likely that this celt, rendered in a green stone that might be jade, one of the most valued material in Ancient Mesoameric, might have once been possessed by a shaman. As great civilizations rise and fall, they leave behind traces of their existence. Ritualistic objects, venerated in their own time, continue to exert an eternal force long after they have left the hands that once held them sacred. A mysterious energy still radiates from the core of this celt, a testament to the artistry and culture of the ancient Olmec civilization.