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The Olmec were remarkable lapidaries, and this is a good example of their fine workmanship. An extremely thin jadeite piece in the shape of an axe blade has been turned into the representation of a supernatural scholars know as a were-jaguar. The conventionalized snarling mouth and "flame" eyebrows have been carved in extremely low relief and filled in with bright red cinnabar.
Pre-Classic (1800 B.C. - 150 A.D.)
Light green jadeite and cinnabar
National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico.
Photo © Jorge Pérez de Lara