Tunjos (Votive Offering Figurine)

Tunjos (Votive Offering Figurine)

c. 900-1550

Cast gold

Average: 6.9 x 2.6 cm (2 11/16 x 1 in.)

In memory of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Humphreys, gift of their daughter Helen 1947.19



Unlike the other gold ornaments in this gallery, tunjos were not worn; instead, they served as offerings that were deposited in sacred places, such as lagoons and caves. They often depict humans who hold something-here a container with a head (1947.22), a spear thrower (1947.19), and a bird-tipped (1957.25). The subject must have corresponded to a benefit being asked from the gods. Perhaps because they were not meant for display, tunjos were not finished after lost-wax casting. Flaws remain uncorrected, surfaces are unpolished, and gold that backed into the sprue (pouring channel) was left in place, creating the button-like form at the bottoms of 1947.24 and 1947.17, which were cast upside down.

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