c. 500–200 BC
Hammered and cut gold
Overall: 12.5 x 13.8 cm (4 15/16 x 5 7/16 in.)
Dudley P. Allen Fund 1938.431
Hammered gold ornaments have been produced in the Andes since 1500 BC.
These plaques showing a powerful Chavín deity may come from a group of gold objects found in a lavish tomb in the 1920s. One is shaped as the deity’s fanged head, its fur transformed into sixteen serpents that edge the plaque. On the other, the deity’s visually elusive body also appears: the clawed hands over the chest may clutch a horizontal staff, an emblem of authority; across the waist is a belt that sprouts serpents; and beneath are the legs and feet, which stand atop fanged masks.
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