Figure Pendant

Figure Pendant

900-1550

Cast gold

Overall: 6.2 x 6.1 x 2.5 cm (2 7/16 x 2 3/8 x 1 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1998.3

Description

Tairona-style pendants are among the most spectacular of all ancient American gold ornaments, in part because of the detail achieved with lost-wax casting. The traits of the figure pendant include a lower lip ornament and a headdress in which two bats hang upside down. Although called caciques (chieftains)-that is, ruler portraits-the meaning of such figures is not well understood.

Bird imagery was important in the isthmian region in ancient times and remains so today. For instance, among the modern Bribri of Costa Rica, the principal creator deity (Sibo) takes the form of a buzzard or kite who wears a collar. Collars are standard features of ancient bird pendants, like the one shown here.

See also
Department: 
Art of the Americas
Type of artwork: 
Metalwork
Medium: 
Cast gold

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