This is a votive ax common in the material remains that have come down to us from the pre-Columbian culture of the Olmecs, located inMexico.
In this case it's an ax that even has its own name on it. Although that is because it belonged to the collection of Dr. Georges F. Kunz, although it is currently exhibited in the New York Museum of Natural History.
It is a piece dated prior to the year 600 BC, and has some features in common with many other votive or ceremonial axes. Some objects that are generally small (this one does not reach 30 centimeters), which contrasts with one of the most characteristic elements of Olmec sculpture, such as its Colossal Heads.
You can see that the ax has a wedge shape. And it is usual that it is only carved on its front face, where you can see a character with a characteristic mouth, in which the fangs of the jaguar may appear, the animal deified par excellence in many pre-Hispanic cultures of Central America.
They are also ceremonial axes made of semi-precious stones, such as jade, a beautiful material but that also had a strong symbolism given its intense green color, like that of the lush jungle vegetation in the area.
The fact is that jade is associated with funeral offerings, thus posing akind of reborn after death, just like what happens with plant cycles.
However, regardless of its symbolic value, from an artistic point of view the use of jade is more than remarkable, since it requires an important technical mastery on the part of its carvers, since it is a quite hard stone and difficult to work. This did not prevent them from giving their faces a certain expressiveness and, above all, they created quite proportionate shapes.
The piece's exceptional polished finish is also noteworthy, something that was done by abrasion. For this reason, the stone is finally very attractive both to the eye and to the touch. In fact, the Olmec votive axes were highly valued by other peoples, so much so that specifically the Kunz Ax was found in the valley from Oaxaca, far from the epicenter of the Olmec culture. And as a curiosity, it can be said that it was an element that was used in rituals of other pre-Columbian cultures. Something that seems to indicate an illustration of the Tro-cortesian Codex of the Mayan era, where gods are seen hitting the clouds with their great axes so that it rains and thus the good harvests arrive.