Art of the Ancient Americas
Maker: Unknown

Warrior with a Trophy Head

A.D. 900–1200

Volcanic rock

38.1 × 20.96 × 12.7 cm (15 × 8 1/4 × 5 in.)
Gift of the Olsen Foundation
Images of trophy bearers carrying an axe in one hand and a severed head in the other commonly occur in Costa Rican sculpture. The head that this warrior is holding, smaller than life-size, may be a shrunken one. Trophy heads were given as prizes in the ballgame, suggesting that this trophy bearer might have been a ballgame victor, his belt perhaps echoing a ballplayer’s yoke.
Costa Rica
Costa Rica, Atlantic Watershed, Guapiles, Period VI
Early Postclassic Period

Alfred Stendahl (1915–2010), Los Angeles, June 27, 1956; Fred H. Olsen (1891–1986), and Florence Quittenton Olsen, Guilford, Conn.; gift in 1958 to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


Jorge A. Lines, Ancient Art from Costa Rica, exh. cat. (Claremont, Calif.: Scripps College, 1953).

George A. Kubler, ed., Pre-Columbian Art of Mexico and Central America (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1986), 193–94, 366, no. 426, fig. 251.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.