Carved in the form of the primary field clearing tool, the chopping celt, this enlarged version made from precious green stone connotes the power of the ruler who wielded it. Its functional reference and its green color imply the ruler's shamanic ability and responsibility to ensure agricultural success. The celt form as a ritual object also alludes to decapitation sacrifices for the gods who controlled nature and the growth of crops. Celts are occasionally found in burials, but most come from ritual deposits placed in pyramids, plazas, and sacred springs. The caches often contain a large number of celts arranged in rows or geometric patterns, and sometimes laid within specially colored clay or sand. Most celts are plain, as is this example, but others are incised with images of Olmec deities such as the maize god. The celt's seedlike shape, green color, and its "planting" in the ground indicate an agricultural ceremonial meaning for these special deposits. The multiple references to fertility, regeneration, and maintenance of the balance of nature would have had powerful connotations for the person wielding the ceremonial celt as an implement of political office.
Throckmorton Fine Art, New York; purchased by John G. Bourne, Sante Fe, 2000; given to John G. Bourne Foundation, 2000 ; given to Walters Art Museum, 2013.
 according to Bourne Foundation accounts