At the Jade Museum, San José, Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s Jade Museum is full of extraordinary jade.


The Jade Museum, San José, Costa Rica

We spent over four hours here, and could have spent more, had our legs and backs had more stamina, and had our eyes and brains been able to take in more without overloading.


Jade is a hard, beautiful stone that with care and persistent labor can be given a polish that is still vibrant a thousand years and more after the artisans work was first finished.

There are no jade deposits in Costa Rica…the jade that is here came from the north as cargo on vessels that plied the coasts and on the backs of porters who trod ancient trade routes. The hard stone could be cut with cords of wet fiber and abrasive sand, the cords pulled back and forth uncounted times. Tools of jade itself were also used, as few other minerals are harder than jade. Archaeologists sometimes find stones that still have material waiting to be cut, like the piece pictured below.


Shaping was also done with tools such as cord drills.


The museum says they can’t say precisely how long it took to make some of these objects, but they think a reasonable estimate is that several people, working over a periods of at least two or three months, could finish one “average” piece. Even a simple bead would require hours and hours of work.


These worked stones have great power.






Eloquent art is created with simple lines, drill holes, and patient abrading .

Many objects are small.



A pair of monkeys.


A bat.


This last image…



I can’t say for sure what it is.


But it sure is extraordinary.

One response to “At the Jade Museum, San José, Costa Rica

  1. I visited your museum in January. Seeing the jade drill video I would like to know if that video is available on the WEB. I am a Visiting Research at the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley campus and would like to use the video in a presentation on lithics and specifically drilled beads and shell. You can contact me at

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