The San Jose Jade Museum in Costa Rica holds the world’s largest collection of American jade, containing a vast array of jewelry and artifacts, as well as an exhibit that offers a historical inquiry into the precious stone’s importance in pre-Columbian times. The pieces in the Jade Museum are varied and include examples of jade artistry from all over the Americas, including the Mayan Empire. The oldest pieces date back to around 500 BC to 900 AD, with about 6000 of these expensive artifacts in the form of jewelry, vases, sculptures and figurines. Expect display cases filled with translucent jade carvings depicting shamans, frogs, snakes, fertility goddesses, as well as some impressive pottery.
One piece that usually burns into the visitor’s consciousness is a vase that has real human teeth in it, with pieces of jade carefully added to the teeth for aesthetic beauty. The craftsmanship is generally excellent and the pieces on display have for the most part been very well preserved.
The museum is open Monday to Friday, 8am to 4:30pm, and costs about $7. The exhibit is small, taking roughly an hour, and has bilingual tour guides on hand to explain the artifacts. It is located at Avenida 7, Calle 9-11, on the first floor of the National Insurance Institute. The entrance is a little to the left of the institute’s main entrance.
- David Jennings