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This publication was made possible through the
generosity of the Lila Acheson Wallace Fund for
The Metropolitan Museum of Art established
cofounder of Reader's Digest.

by the

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin
Spring 2002, Volume LIX,Number 4
(ISSN 0026-1521)
Copyright ? 2002 by The Metropolitan Museum
of Art. Published quarterly. Periodicals postage
paid at New York, N.Y., and Additional Mailing
Offices. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin
is provided as a benefit to Museum members and
is available by subscription. Subscriptions $25.00
a year. Single copies $8.95. Four weeks' notice
required for change of address. POSTMASTER:Send
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Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue,
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N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, Mich. 48106. Volumes
I-XXXVII(1905-42) available as clothbound
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Drive #10, Salem, N.H. 03079, or from the
Museum, Box 700, Middle Village, N.Y. 11379.
General Manager of Publications: John P. O'Neill
Editor in Chief of the Bulletin: Joan Holt
Editor of the Bulletin: Jennifer Bernstein
Production: Peter Antony
Design: Matsumoto Incorporated, N.Y.
Color photography by Juan Trujillo, of the Photograph
Studio of The Metropolitan Museum of Art .
Map on page 56 by Adam Hart, of the Design
Department of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The compass rose on the map includes the Aztec
symbol for gold.
On the cover: Figure Pendant, Colombia (Tairona),
10th-16th century; see page 27. Inside covers:
Detail of Crown, Peru (Lambayeque), 10th-12th
century; see page 13


Gold-to the scientistit is a chemicalelementin the periodictable with the symbolAu
(fromaurum,the Latinname for the metal).For most of the rest of us it bringsto mind
thoughtsof sumptuousnessand wealth;of KingMidasof Phrygia,who wishedfor everything
he touchedto turnto gold (therewas a slightpitfall-all his food becameinedible);of the
majesticgoldenstags,panthers,and othertrappingsof the Scythiankings,buriedfor centuries
in the frozenwastesof Siberia;and, closerto home, of the fantastictreasuresof the Aztec
and Inkarulers,which fueleda gold rushthat broughtdown theirempiresand causedan
explosionof Europeanexpeditionsof conquestand exploration.Butgold is more than
a fabuloussourceof wealth;it is the mediumfor works of art of greatbeautyand superb
craftsmanship,in which the intrinsicvalueof the metalitself becomessecondaryto the
creation.This point is handsomelyillustratedin this Bulletindevotedto Precolumbiangold
objectsmade in Mexico, CentralAmerica,and SouthAmericabeforethe Spanishconquest.
Our holdingsof Precolumbiangold, the most synopticof any museum'sin the world,
were initiatedin 1886 with the purchaseof a pectoraldisk from Colombia.Sincethat time
the collectionhas grown primarilythroughthe gifts of three individuals:Alice K. Bache,
Nelson A. Rockefeller,andJan Mitchell.Alice Bachefirstdonatedworks from her wonderful
collectionof Precolumbiangold, her personalpassion, in 1966. Her gifts continueduntil
her death, and many more objectswere includedin her 1977 bequest.In 1978 and 1979
the Nelson Rockefellercollectionscameto the Metropolitanin accordancewith his pledge
of 1969. The Bachegifts and the MichaelC. RockefellerMemorialCollection(namedfor
the governor'sson) establishedthe Museum'sreputationin the field of ancientAmerican
gold. At the time of the openingof the MichaelC. RockefellerWing in 1982, the gold
treasurywas one of the much-admiredhighlightsof the new galleries.
The 1991 additionof the most significantpieces from the renownedcollection
of Jan Mitchellpropelledthe Metropolitan'sholdingsto theircurrentlyunrivaledposition.
CountrieswherePrecolumbianpiecesoriginatedhave largerand more comprehensive
collectionsof theirown nativeobjects,but we are able to presenta pictureof all indigenous
Americangold, from Peruin the south, wherethe metal was first worked, to Mexico in
the north,the sourceof the exotic formsthat dazzledsixteenth-centuryEurope.We are
furtherindebtedto Jan Mitchellfor his supportof the reinstallationof the treasury,which
openedto the publicin 1993 with a glitteringpresentationof more than 250 works. The
Jan MitchellTreasuryfor PrecolumbianWorksof Art was installedby JulieJones, curator
in chargeof the Departmentof the Arts of Africa,Oceania,and the Americas,and designed
by JeffreyL. Daly,chief designerfor the Metropolitan,workingwith Zack Zanolli, the
The manycomplextechnicalissuespresentedby the studyof the Precolumbian
objectsin preparationfor this Bulletinwere ably dealtwith by conservatorsand scientistsin
the Museum'sShermanFairchildCenterfor ObjectsConservation,EllenHowe, LeslieGat,
and MarkWypyski.The text is by JulieJonesand Heidi King,seniorresearchassociatein the
Departmentof the Arts of Africa,Oceania,and the Americas.Together,they have created
a brief,informativehistoryof gold in the ancientAmericas,highlightingmany forms and
techniquesand the superbskillsof the region'sindigenouspeoplesbeforethe colonialera.
Philippe de Montebello, Director

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Figure 4. Votive Object (Tunjo). Colombia (Muisca),
10th-16th century. Cast gold, h. 73/4 in. (19.7 cm).
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection,
Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
Tunjos, produced in a variety of forms, have rough
and unpolished surfaces. They were usually buried in
vessels or thrown into lakes, perhaps as offerings to
thank the gods for their help in the past or to ask for
future services.



For the peoples of ancient America gold was endowed with spiritual and symbolic
meaning. The Inka of Peru thought of gold as the rain of the sun, a major deity; and
the word for gold in Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs of Mexico, is teocuitlatl
(excrement of the gods). The Inka considered the mountains where the metal was
found to be huacas (sacred places) and are said to have made offerings to the mines.
The peoples of Costa Rica and Panama looked upon gold collecting as a sacred
activity and purified their bodies by fasting for several days beforehand to ensure
success. Gold was associated with worldly power, status, and wealth. In the vast Inka
empire, which in the early sixteenth century stretched from Ecuador to central Chile
and Bolivia, gold was the property of the Inka rulers; no commoner could own even
the smallest bit. Similarly, the powerful rulers of the Aztecs, whose empire in the
sixteenth century extended from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, had sole
control over mines and workshops. Only emperors were entitled to gift gold objects,
usually to reward exceptionally brave soldiers, who wore the ornaments proudly
as badges of honor.
During the late fifteenth century, when the first Europeans came to the Americas,
gold was worked in an area that stretched south from present-day Mexico to central
Chile, north Argentina, and Bolivia. A commonly accepted theory is that gold working
began in the Peruvian highlands in the mid-second millennium B.C. and that knowledge
of the technology spread north to Ecuador and Colombia (where the oldest pieces
are presently dated to the mid-first millennium B.C.), reaching Panama/Costa Rica by
about the second century A.D. and Mexico by the ninth or tenth century. However,
ongoing research argues for several points of origin for American metallurgy.
Despite the religious and secular symbolism associated with gold in ancient
American cultures, the precious metal acquired cultural value only when worked into
images. The son of a Panamanian chief, for example, perplexed by the Spaniards'
melting down of gold objects into ingots, is reported to have said that the raw metal
had no more value than a lump of clay. The primary use of gold in Precolumbian
America was for personal adornment. Many objects are clearly just jewelry, but
most embody complex religious iconography. The second most important function
of the metal was funerary, to honor powerful individuals and to acknowledge their
status even in death. The offering of gold objects to the gods was also a common
practice among some groups. The Inka placed small gold and silver figures of llamas
and humans in caches near wells, caves, and rocks and on mountain peaks, and the
Muisca of Colombia made votive figures, known as tunjos, for burial in sacred places
(fig. 4). The use of the precious metal for vessels was generally rare, though in Peru
after the tenth century an impressive number were made for the elite, perhaps as
a result of better access to gold deposits or improved metal-processing skills. Early
explorers found entire rooms of the royal palaces of the Aztecs and Inka sheathed in
gold and silver.
Although gold is among the earth's rarest metals, it was, after copper, the
earliest used by man. Unlike many other metals, it occurs in metallic form in nature
and is easily worked. It can be obtained from rock by mining or from rivers and
streams bearing rich alluvium drained from auriferous mountain ranges.




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1535. it is not surprising that colonial accounts include ample information about indigenous metal production. probably from what are today the Mexican states of Guerrero and Oaxaca. The New YorkPublic Library. following veins of ore. The nuggets carried down the swollen rivers during the next rains were held back by the stone barricades and easily collected in the dry season. carried large amounts of the ore. The earliest method was to beat nuggets into sheets with stone hammers over stone anvils. by Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo y Valdes. 6 7 . They also laid stone riffles across streambeds during the dry season. especially those in the western and central Cordillera of Colombia and in Costa Rica and Panama. causing them to overflow their banks. Rare Books Division. Many rivers. The raw gold found on the north coast of Peru. The Spanish chroniclers report that metalworkers in southern Peru used three-foot-tall ceramic wind furnaces called huairas. while in others the metal was extracted and traded as a raw material to regions with no ore deposits. and Michoacan. Because the ancient Americans did not have bellows. Illustration from facsimile of Codex Mendoza (1541-42). which was enough space for one man to work. high temperatures were generated by blowing through tubular clay or reed pipes (fig. 1992 The man is using a tripod vessel as a crucible and a blowpipe to increase the heat of the fire. Hafted stone hammers and scrapers of wood and deer antler were used to loosen lumps of ore. Seville. ancient Americans developed most of the techniques known today. and most traces of them have disappeared. p. 5). for instance. Near riverbanks they hoed the earth with sticks and sluiced it in flat wooden trays (fig. Sometimes rivers were diverted and dammed. and Tilden Foundations Figure 6. in which river gravel is washed in a pan. Woodcut from La historia general y natural de las Indias. The shallow shafts were vertical. According to one account. The ore was then carried out in baskets and in hide sacks. dug narrow pits and shafts. Guerrero. was used locally.Given the Spaniards' intensive search for gold. Descriptions of native mining at the time of the conquest state that the most common method of obtaining gold was by panning (placer mining). while deep ones.or forty-degree angles for easier access. In some areas mining and gold working were conducted together. nets were stretched across rivers. the ore was smelted. Panning Gold in the Early Colonial Period. which were pried out with sticks. Huairas were usually placed on windy hillsides to take advantage of the natural updraft. causing the flakes. To separate the gold from the rock. where the gold was washed from the veins of rock and became separated from the gravel. Aztec Metalworker. University of California Press. During their three thousand years of working gold. which were shaped like large flowerpots and had small vents in their walls to create a forceful draft. Hammering requires great Figure 5. 66. In Peru deposits were particularly abundant in the rivers on the north coast. Underground mining evidently was practiced only in Peru and Colombia during the last few centuries before the conquest. 6). were at thirty. on the other hand. 70. Lenox. The heavy molten gold sank to the bottom of the furnace. fol. where it solidified and was removed for further processing. allegedly up to 240 feet long. One sixteenth-century document relates that the Inka. Astor. Archaeological evidence of it is limited because many of the preconquest mines were exploited by the Spaniards. and grains (which have a high specific gravity) to settle at the bottom. obtained all their gold through tribute and trade. nuggets. a chemical process activated by heating the crushed rocks in small clay crucibles or bowl furnaces. some no more than three feet wide. The Aztecs. and nuggets as big as eggs were caught in them when the waters rose. while in Mexico gold was found primarily in the modern states of Oaxaca. The Aztec glyph for gold is shown in front of the rising flames. Ancient Americans used the power of running water to wash gold from rock.

. cast objects are made of intentional mixtures of metals. and 1083?C for pure copper. the casting process was the next logical invention. such as pitch or wood). and punches. Sheet-gold objects have smooth. also developed a number of gilding and plating techniques. including the small fish and double-headed snake held in its beak and the bulbous eyes that contain clappers. is characteristic of Precolumbian work and was developed for practical as well as for symbolic and aesthetic reasons. Eagle 11th-16th Pendant. and objects originally heldin thehands. The goldsmith modeled the object and its decorative details in wax and then encased the wax model in clay.. leaving a channel. and repouss6 (working the sheet freehand while it rests on a semisoft surface. These techniques were performed with simple tools of stone and wood or of copper. The object was cast in a single process. The use of alloys. molten metal was poured in to replace it. it is known as tumbaga. usually of wood). In the captions for the illustrations in this publication. Most common was the lost-wax method (cire perdue).22) The model for this bird pendant with all of its details. 1st-4th Jan Mitchell.. The latter required great skill because the wax model was formed over a core that had to be kept in place during the casting process. Once the discovery was made that gold nuggets melt with the application of sufficient heat. are now missing. adornments for the head. manual skill and knowledge of the metal's behavior throughout the process. h. which may have begun in the last centuries of the first millennium B. Ecuador or Colombia (Tolita-Tumaco). the term "gold" is used although most of the works are made of gold alloys containing some silver and/or copper. The surfaces of tumbaga objects were usually enriched by the mise en couleur process (depletion gilding). Decorations can be applied by cutting.Figure7. causing copper to form on the surface. which were joined by soldering or sweat welding or with staples. may have been clothed for ritual occasions. nails. the sheet must be annealed-that is. perforators. the copper was then removed by immersing the object in an acidic solution of plant juice. an alloy is harder than the pure metal and allows for greater details in the casting. Its feet. GOLD OF THE AMER IC AS KING . century. versus 1063?C for pure gold. 9 in. heated to just the right temperature to make it soft without melting it. 7). as are the ear ornaments. Heating the clay mold melted the wax.187. In regions where working with sheet metal was preferred. embossing (hammering the metal over a carved former. The pieces range from simple abstract forms and realistic animal and human figures to complex composites of creatures that reflect a rich mythology. with only some percentage of silver and/or copper. often with remarkably complex details. Ancient goldsmiths cast both solid pieces. straps. The Peruvians.C. -HEIDI Figure 8. The selections on the following pages display the superb skills and amazing creativity of the peoples that inhabited the lands of Precolumbian America. This figure. While hammered pieces are often of high karat. chasing. Gift of cm). as in Peru and Ecuador. (11. (22. wearing a repousse nose ornament. Standing FigureWearing a Nose Ornament. "Gold alloy" is used only for objects that have been scientifically tested and when the exact percentages of the constituent metals have been established. highly polished. and reflective surfaces. including surface fusion and electrochemical plating. Among the technical advantages is that the melting points of alloys are significantly lower than those of the constituent metals: 778?C for an alloy of 60 percent gold. Hammered gold. Costa Rica (Chiriqui). 1995 (1995.9 Jan Mitchell and Sons Collection.. Cast gold. leaving a fine surface layer of purer gold. which was poured out. considered by many to have been the most innovative metalworkers in ancient America. 1977 (1977. i::: ~oxide i~ 4 lr4nB :' . h. scoring. was formed of wax before being embedded in a clay mold. awls. Repeated hammering causes it to become brittle and eventually to break. The most frequently employed alloy contained gold and copper. 43/8 in. To restore malleability. Bache. Bequest of Alice K. The special place that gold attained in Precolumbian cultures because of its symbolic power and its indication of status led to the development of a wide range of gold-working technologies and to the manufacture of objects of great beauty and often elusive meaning. once attached withgold wire.1 cm). Moreover.. such as chisels. and hollow objects. century.427) Statuary in gold is rare in ancient America. extraordinary objects were made of many separate preshaped parts. or tabs (fig. or alloys: gold with either copper or silver (binary alloy) or gold with both copper and silver (ternary alloy). The finishing of the surface was accomplished by buffing and burnishing with stone or bone polishers and abrasive sands. The piece was heated. Often made with as much as 70 percent copper. The mold was then broken to free the casting. 40 percent copper.


near the town of Andahuaylas in south-central Peru. but it has been individualized with puffy bags beneath the eyes. forms. The fervid search for gold that began over five hundred years ago with the first European encounters continues to this day. Hammered from a single sheet of the metal. Bequest of Nelson A. It is from these graves that information is derived about the use of precious metals in this hemisphere.C. During the years of indigenous production of gold.C. Hammered gold. Spiders had long had a place in Peruvian mythology. smooth. w.1 cm) Jan Mitchell and Sons Collection. and additional holes at the sides suggest that the mask might have been worn in life during a ceremony in which its golden surface would have been a commanding presence.39) Nose Ornament with Spiders Peru (Salinar?). as the majority of Precolumbian peoples had no writing systems and little is known about them. Until well into the twentieth century. pale foil. airy object. The roundness of the spiders is echoed in the shapes of the web. 1991 (1991. Rockefeller Memorial Collection. Some exchange of materials. gold was being worked with skill and virtuosity. -jj . grave offerings grew in quantity. lightweight. and a biglipped.when this mask was placed in the tomb of a high-ranking individual in the Calima Valley of southwest Colombia. too.Mask Colombia (llama). the other beads and bits of foil were in his hands. when it came to an end with the total disruption of local traditions. Rockefeller. Their tiny fangs appear. The eyes are pierced. menacingly. (11. (24. 1979 (1979. and sophistication throughout the Americas. In Peru the technology appears to have had specific meaning. with its delicate parts simply fused together in a balanced combination of open and opaque areas. large cheeks. Unfortunately. The four spiders "caught" in the delicate web of the ornament shown above illustrate the firm command of technique that existed by the end of the millennium.. By the late centuries of the first millennium B. What is known is often deduced by archaeologists and art historians from the material remains.11 72) Gold was first worked in the Americas about thirty-five hundred years ago. w. GOLD OF THE AMERIC AS Two regions were particularly important for gold at this time: the north of Peru and southwest Colombia/northwest Ecuador. asymmetric shapes. Hammered gold. The largest piece of foil and the largest bead were in the man's mouth. 43/8 in. 91/2 in. quality. the mask is true to its type in representing only basic details of the face.206. Nine pieces of foil had been placed in the burial of a young man together with seven blue stone beads. Gift of Jan Mitchell.c. or metalsmiths may have taken place between the regions-they shared a sheet-metal technology that was practiced for generations-but each had distinct styles in worked gold. The foil.419. in small. very round. is the first documented placement of worked gold in an ancient tomb in the Americas and the earliest evidence in the Americas of the inclusion of valuable objects in graves.D. 4th-2nd century B. and their association with fertility and sacrifice would have been understood by all ancient viewers of the ornament. and their compact bodies and four legs are clearly visible. The custom continued for more than three thousand years until the Spaniards arrived in the early sixteenth century. 1st century B. gold objects were still chiefly hammered into intricate and complex shapes.1 cm) The Michael C. objects looted from thousands of ancient tombs were routinely melted down for their gold content. their extraordinary forms were considered of less value than the metal from which they were made. open mouth. when small nuggets were hammered into thin. An elegant. in spite of the simplicity of the creatures' forms.-1st century A. Evidence for this type of foil was discovered by archaeologists in the Andean highlands of South America. it was made with great control of medium and design. for long after casting techniques were employed for other metals.

making a stately movement that no doubt emulated that of the tall plumes on grand feathered headdresses. and decorations for ears and noses are the most common forms. and feathers created eye-catching compositions of strong color and rich texture. They were part of suites of objects. hands. w. 1979 (1979. stones. On the example at the top of the opposite page the face is worked in high relief and wears a helmetlike cap. where facial hair was scant. 15 in. Large ornaments could virtually surround the face and sometimes obscure it. 3rd century (?) Hammered gold. the freely moving parts would have swayed with the wearer's motion. those for arms. In the nose is an H-shaped ornament that is so large it Headdress Frontal with Faces Peru (Sihuas). pectorals. bottom Headdress Frontal with Face Colombia (Yotoco). copper. w.8 cm) Jan Mitchell and Sons Collection. 11 in. (38. 1st-7th century Hammered gold. Rockefeller Memorial Collection. Headdresses. Other precious materials were combined with gold. bottom) and are embellished with many more dangling parts. Certain wide headdress frontals bear the raised. suggesting that the ornament relates to the protection of ancestors-a meaningful concept in the indigenous Americas. and upper torso.40) 10 11 hides all of the face but the eyes. an unusual feature in Precolumbian America. When the ornament was attached to the front of a turbanlike wrap.206. such as those produced in the Calima Valley region of Colombia during the Yotoco period of the early centuries A. multielement necklaces. w. great disks hang from the ears. or brightly hued shells.-jj . neck. The faces seem to have beards or very large mustaches. 2001 (2001. Discovery Communications Inc. and the use of that metal with silver. are among the largest torso embellishments. 1st-7th century Hammered gold. comes a large crescent-shaped frontal that has many embossed faces worked on the surface (above). smaller face is worked on its surface. apparently worn together. pendants.Until late in the Precolumbian era American gold primarily was made into objects that adorned head. squinty-eyed face (opposite. the same face with its dangling ornaments appears on other Yotoco objects from Colombia. and feet exist in smaller numbers. The meaning of such multiple images is unclear. waist.507) opposite. 1991 (1991. Rockefeller. top Pectoral with Face Colombia (Yotoco). Some of the "bearded" faces themselves have arms that sweep upward and five fingers pointing skyward.419. Bequest of Nelson A.1 cm) Purchase. that shared similar imagery based on an enigmatic human face with closed or squinty eyes. 93/8 in.. Gift. (23. Chest-sized pectorals. Gift of Jan Mitchell.32) opposite. From Peru. Another. (28 cm) The Michael C.D. far to the south.

q/k- -K - -~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ .

are impressive for the brilliant expanse of smooth. 1979 (1979. more northern tradition. reflective surface on the topmost flair. (26. Rockefeller.The frontals may have indicateda group affiliation amongthose privilegedto wear them. such as the wide headdress frontals of the Moche peoples of Peru (right) and the cylindrical crowns of later times (opposite.1151) The adornment of the head and face with objects of precious metal and other rich and colorful materials was especially meaningful to high-ranking members of ancient South American societies. Particularly flamboyant arrangements for the top of the head often included major gold elements.D. Snarlingfelines had significant supernaturalconnotationsin Perufor many centuries-they might have been divinities-and headdressfrontalswith such faces are known from depictions on Moche paintedpottery. tassels. Hammered 3rd-6th Face century gold. Bequest of Nelson A. 101/2 in.7 cm) The Michael C.Headdress Frontal with Feline Peru (Moche). in a form that may be a descendant of an older. Rockefeller Memorial Collection. and other decorations such as animal skins. has a face in the center flanked by upside-down birds. w. Worn on fabric bases wound turbanlike about the head. top). The broad simplicity of the plain areas combined with the clear patterns make it a particularly compelling ornament. they were sometimes given feather crests or plumes.206. The example illustrated here. The central face is that of a fanged feline of overtly hostile aspect. The Moche frontals of the early to middle centuries of the first millennium A.-jj 12 1 .

as well as other Americancrocodilians. like the one shown below. Bache.196. cut from a single sheet of gold (as is the crown above). w. (21 cm) Gift and Bequest of Alice K.circled the head and was laced shut with cords or wires throughthe holes at each end.D.-jj GOLD OF THE AMERICAS .a crocodilian that inhabitedthe tropicallowlandsof SouthAmerica.13) Diadem with Caiman Colombia (Middle Magdalena). as illustrated here. It had special religious and funerary functions and is the location of some of the richest graves in the Americas (see p. but at the beginning of the second millennium A.Caimans.6 cm) Jan Mitchell and Sons Collection. were frequently mentioned.perhaps becausetheir very simplicitycausedthem to be consignedto the meltingpot before more elaboratepieces. from which the crown is reputed to have come. 211/2 in. include designs commonly found on contemporary Lambayeque textiles. 1996 (1996. Gift of Jan Mitchell.however.were respected and feared. is now known as Batan Grande. such as those on this crown. It is decoratedwith a raisedimageof a broad-snoutedcaiman. simple fillets or diadems. 81/4 in. those of hourglass shape.354. appeared in the Lambayeque region of north Peru. 10th-llth century Hammered gold. This example. h. 1st-7th century Hammered gold. 36). Those images.3) The tall. The powerful ancient center. straightforwardly Today. (54.are seldomas realisticas this one.Crown Peru (Lambayeque). Early forms of the chiefly headgear were straight-sided. 1977 (66. In the early European accounts of the gold worn by native American peoples. Embossed patterns.diademsare rarerthan the early Europeanreportsmightindicate. cylindrical crowns of Peru vary in profile and surface embellishment.and they had a prominent place in gold imageryin north Colombia and adjacentlower CentralAmerica. 1966.

D. 1st-7th century Hammered gold and semiprecious stone (modern stringing). 1979 (1979.4 cm) Bequest of Alice K.505) Necklace (detail) Colombia (Yotoco).187. 1977 (1977. w.2-.18) 14 11 . Bache. Rockefeller.9 cm) The Michael C. (. (1. Cast gold.C.206.Beads (Insects?) Colombia (Malagana). h.-3rd century A. 3rd century B. (beads) 1/16-1/8 in. (each) 3/4 in. Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller Memorial Collection.

bottom). hollow. diam. (each) 21/2 in. bird bones. The expression here is severe and remote. 1991 (1991. Bache. 1977 (1974. bottom) and included those of semiprecious stone and some emerald elements. they were made in a great variety of materials. Yotoco beads are works of great elegance and refinement and contrast markedly with the emphatic showmanship of objects made by the contemporary peoples of Moche-era Peru. as they were restrung in modern times) includes malachite. h.-jj . and fish vertebrae-to those that were fabricated from valuable metals. jadeite. from those that occur naturally (the first used)such as seeds. and they were beautifying. chrysocolla. Large and symbolically complex.1 cm) Jan Mitchell and Sons Collection. Beads served a multitude of purposes: they were identifiers of family.419. 1974. Strung mostly to be worn around the neck. amethyst. they were indicators of wealth and rank. combining several of the above uses in one object. shells. In this necklace the variety of semiprecious beads (which are not in their original order. Gift of Jan Mitchell. or insects and/or stylizations of them (opposite. or tribe.Head-Form Beads Peru (Moche). By the late first millennium B. top) with a variety of facial expressions that range from fierce to bland. The later Yotoco necklaces had plainer gold beads (opposite. A supernatural figure related to one known by archaeologists as the Decapitator fills the fronts of these beads with a very assertive presence.57) Beads with Supernatural Figure Peru (Moche). Customarily they were strung many to a necklace. animals. they were talismanic protectors of the wearer. Some were multipurpose.C. serpentine. Moche beads are three-dimensional. going back to Paleolithic times in many places in the world. (6. worked in shapes resembling birds. 3rd-6th century Hammered gold. Frequently they depict human heads (above.271. The eyes and mouths were probably inlaid with shell or another more malleable material. GOLD OF THE AME R IC AS and turquoise.4 cm) Gift and Bequest of Alice K. (each) 11/4 in. animal teeth. Other Moche beads are round with embossed images (above. 3rd-6th century Hammered gold. amazonite.52-.31) Beads are the most common of all ornaments and have the longest history of human use. sodalite. and made of two pieces of sheet metal joined at the sides. clan. green jasper. (3. top). as were the ones illustrated here. blue jasper. Those of southwest Colombia were small. gold beads in South America took many forms.

Archaeologists distinguish among the works of three periods in the Calima River region: llama.The runnersface in opposite directions. (Yotoco)..419. and spondylus. (9. 1966. to the conquest. Their eyes and beaks are sheathed in gold. 1991 (1991. first to seventh century A.7 and Sons Gift of Jan Mitchell.196.8 (66.D. quartz. . pyrite. cm) Collection. Yotoco. and thirteenth to sixteenth century. respectively. 11) made by the same culture.42) . The gold objects are currently dated to the fourth to second century B.D. Hammered inlay. or spiny oyster. turquoise. where the Moche peoples were dominant during much of the first millennium A. Hammered Gift and Bequest Pair of Ear Ornaments Runners Colombia century gold. -HK On the north coast of Peru. and shell Jan Mitchell cm) of Alice K. they expressed status and power.-HK 16 1 . and long tubular shafts to counterbalance the weight of the frontals. often with a border of hollow spheres. the most fashionable ear ornaments were those with wide circular frontals. A particularlyimpressive group is decorated with colorful mosaics of such materials as turquoise. bird-headed (or masked) runners holding small white bags in their outstretched hands. diam. (5. Bache. sodalite.Pair of Earflares Peru (Moche). with Winged 2nd-5th sodalite.C.. 37/8 in.41) Ornaments worn in the distended lobes of the ears were an important part of elite costume in Precolumbian America from the first millennium B. On this pair they depict winged. They are thought to be mythologicalmessengers. Made of the most precious materials available to the wearer and in a wide range of shapes and sizes. diam.C. an orientation followed on the north coast of Peru for well over a thousand years (see opposite page). shell. In the Calima region of southwest Colombia biconical or spool-shaped objects with decorated ends were part of elaborate multipiece assemblages. 21/4 in. 1977 1st-7th century gold.. which included large concave disks suspended from the ear spools by gold rings. and Sonso.41. Such disks can be seen adorning faces on pectorals and on headdress frontals (see p.40.

514 in. decorated with cut-out and repouss6 designs. 12th-15th century Hammered gold. detail of shaft shown at left GOLD OF THE AMERICAS .Pair of Earflares with Multifigure Scene Peru (Chimu). Objects made for the elite had become ostentatious displays of wealth and technical virtuosity.3 cm) Jan Mitchell and Sons Collection. The shafts are embellished with a delicate chased repeat of crested birds in a diamond grid (detail).67. A distinguished Chimd lord. 1991 (1991. They are decorated on the frontals with complex multifigured scenes. precious-metal production in that region had reached unprecedented levels. Gift of Jan Mitchell. (13. echo the rhythm of the small spheres encircling the rims of the frontals. flared headdresses. Of thin. hammered sheet gold.419. -HK . they are remarkably light in spite of their size. wearing a large headdress and ear ornaments. diam.68) By the time powerful Chimu kings had established their desert kingdom on Peru's north coast in the fourteenth century. as this pair of ear ornaments illustrates. and holding a beaker and a fan. Their huge. is shown standing on a litter supported by two men.

and silver. (7.Pair of Earflares with Condors Peru (Moche). Rockefeller of Nelson Memorial A. The small nose ornament on the face as well as the dangles (most are now missing) are of silver sheet. The technique used to silver these areas has yet to be discovered. w. gilt copper. Moche metalsmiths developed sophisticated mechanical and metallurgical techniques for joining metals. w. 800.206. Collection. The back plates and shafts of gilded copper are also joined in this manner.1246) (1979. In addition to its aesthetic appeal. Rockefeller of Nelson Memorial A. Powerful Moche lords were buried there in the third century. In some Precolumbian cultures snakes are metaphors for the cosmos and guardians of sacred spaces. (21 cm) The Michael Bequest C. Rockefeller.1225) Nose ornaments. two regional cultures that preceded the rise of the Moche civilization on Peru's north coast. 1979 (1979. one of the many cemeteries near the hill of Cerro Vicus in the Piura Valley. found at Loma Negra.1223) opposite.C. bottom Nose Ornament with Intertwined Serpents Peru (Moche). 2nd-3rd century From the site of Loma Negra Hammered gold and silver and shell inlay. The festive and ritual attire of rulers and gods alike often included serpent imagery. 1979 (1979. The upper ornament is made of gold with partially silvered sections across the forehead and 18 1 9 the outer edges of the plumes. and copper. 1979 . They were suspended from holes in the nasal septum. repouss6.6 cm) The Michael Bequest C. The nose crescent is of the same shape as the one illustrated below it. 71/2 in. identified by the large caruncle at the base of its beak and the wattle around its neck. In other cultures images of serpents with two heads have been interpreted as representing a sky band (an arch in the sky like a rainbow). Rockefeller of Nelson Memorial A. perhaps expressing ideas of duality and complementarity. The earflares reportedly were opposite. and sacrifice.1245. 1979 (1979. The Andean condor. 1st-5th century Hammered gold and silver. and shell inlay. Ecuadorean metalworking technology consisted primarily of beating. Rockefeller. condors may have been associated with predation. 3 in. A frequent theme in Moche art.6 cm) The Michael Bequest C.206. diam. The delicate nose ornament (above. when their control extended nearly to the Ecuadorean border. silver.206. the combination of the two metals may have had symbolic meaning to ancient Peruvians. Collection. right) featuring gold spirals enclosing tiny silver spheres is currentlyattributedto the Tolita culture of northwest Ecuador but shares stylistic affinities with the Salinar and Viri (Gallinazo). (7. The meaning of the reptiles is unclear. Snakes were common in Moche territory and depictions of them abound. 81/4 in. where hundreds of tombs were discovered that contained numerous offerings. (19. w. Rockefeller. By contrast. Collection. 2nd-3rd century From the site of Loma Negra Hammered silver and gold. partially silvered. as is shown on the face depicted on the example on the opposite page that also displays earflares. is the largest bird of prey alive today. but the annual shedding of their skins makes them symbols of renewal and regeneration. including works in gold.1136) The combination of gold and silver was common in the metalwork of ancient Ecuador and Peru but rare in other parts of Precolumbian America. Rockefeller of Nelson Memorial A. Rockefeller.-HK . worn mostly by highstatus males. which served as a passageway for the planets and stars. 2nd-3rd century From the site of Loma Negra Hammered gold.206.-HK Nose Ornament Ecuador (Tolita). to about A. death. 3 in. from about 500 B.1 The Michael Bequest cm) C. Collection. were among the earliest personal adornments in ancient Peru and remained in fashion for over a thousand years. The front plates on the earflares are made of sheet gold to which silver repouss6 condors are tabbed. and soldering.D. top Nose Ornament in Form of a Human Head Peru (Moche).

v . t !j . 4 2. . .

Rockefeller.34) Nose Ornament with Birds Peru or Ecuador. w. w. Hammered Jan Mitchell 13th-16th century gold.206. Rockefeller of Nelson cm) Memorial A. Their various shapes and combinations of metals may have signified the function and/or rank of the individual. because they dive deep below the water's surface. At left. with five different types of nose ornaments on or near his face. inorganic design. In Peru one excavated tomb of a distinguished ruler showed that he had been laid to rest sometime in the first century A. 1991 (1991. perched on a crescent. 1979 (19 79. such as those on the ornaments illustrated on page 19. known for aggressive behavior and often shown in connection with Moche warriors. as illustrated by the examples on page 19. Some Moche examples are large and would have covered the lower half of the face. preshaped parts joined by soldering and crimping. (8. with crests on their heads and long straight beaks.1232) 20 the light with the slightest movement of the wearer's head. Perhaps the ancients viewed it as a simplified animal mask. They are made of numerous separate.-HK .D. which would catch Whiskers cm) Collection. which. The graceful projections of the hammered example shown above recall cat's whiskers. The species is difficult to identify.419. Gift of Jan Mitchell. as if pecking it. the beaks pointed at the nose. Although most ancient American nose ornaments are of simple. Sometimes the dazzling effect of the gold is enhanced by numerous free-swinging dangles. such as the example above with the long whiskers. had underworld associations for the Moche. When the ornament was worn. They could also be hummingbirds. dangles also appear on the ornament with four small birds. The birds' spread tails and wings are outlined by twisted elements. such as cormorants. some resemble natural forms.3 C. elegant. others bear meaningful images. (25. often of complex construction. Many ornaments have plain.Nose Ornament Colombia with "Cat's" (Sonso). perhaps to conceal expressions and create a psychological distance between wearer and viewer. 2nd-3rd century From the site of Loma Negra Hammered The Michael Bequest gold. 31/4 in. Collection. 10 in.5 and Sons Nose ornaments were of particular importance in many South American cultures. well polished surfaces. Perhaps they are seabirds.

1991 (1991.C. 600. The different colors of the metal were intentionally created by controlling the amount of silver and copper in the alloys. w. many were in Moche style (see pp. Cast ornaments from the Sind region in northwest Colombia sometimes feature animal forms such as lizards or crocodiles (below). 5th-10th century Cast gold. a culture that lasted until the conquest and the descendants of which still live east of the lower Sinu River. While depictions of felines are also seen on Vicds ceramics. were discovered by local people in the 1960s near Cerro Vicus. w. seemingly grinning face with two tentacle-like extensions. 18.Nose Ornament with Cats Peru (Vicus). (9. Images of human figures in ceramic and metal show. Sinu gold pieces were distributed in a region described in sixteenth-century chronicles as Gran Zend. Rockefeller. Some scholars call the style Zend. 35/8 in.419. to A. It is not clear whether the two cultures coexisted or whether the Moche ruled over the Vicus.-HK . 19). 3rd-5th century Hammered gold alloy. The type shown above is semicircularwith a small cut-out opening at the top for insertion into the nasal septum and is decorated along the rim with rows of bosses. the other bears two mirror-image cats in repouss6. the grinning image-perhaps an octopusseems to occur only on gold nose ornaments. 1979 (1979.206. Rockefeller Memorial Collection.D.49) The Vicus culture was located along the middle reaches of the Piura River in the far north of Peru and lasted from about 200 B. technology. Gift of Jan Mitchell.50) Nose Ornament with Fantastic Face Peru (Vicus). The graves yielded huge quantities of ceramics and metal objects.2 cm) Jan Mitchell and Sons Collection. 43/8 in. where they display menacing fangs and claws. 3rd-5th century Hammered gold. 1991 (1991. Forms and sizes of nose ornaments are sometimes so extraordinary that they F THE AMERI( seem unwearable to the modern viewer.419. The main motif on the ornament on the right is a fantastic.-HK Nose Ornament with Crocodiles or Lizards Colombia (Sinu). Great numbers of shaft tombs. (17. Located in the tropical lowlands along the Caribbean coast of Colombia.1 cm) The Michael C. The object on the right has almost three times as much silver in the alloy as does that on the left. Recent research relates the gold works from this region to the Zenu. Vicds nose ornaments are distinctive in shape and iconography. it stretched from the Sinu River to the Nechi and Magdalena river areas. 63/4 in. They are further embellished with delicate cast filigree of braided and spiral elements. the hill that gave the culture its name. many dug as deep as fifteen feet into the desert ground.1085) The gold work of Colombia is the most diverse in style.1 cm) Jan Mitchell and Sons Collection. that even very wide and thick ornaments were worn in the septum of the nose. Gift of Jan Mitchell. however. and iconography. w. (11. Bequest of Nelson A.

7th-10th h. and arms are human. Cast gold. 37/8 in. A three-point. The color of the two pendants differs. have been worn by humans almost as long as beads. tops the head. Rockefeller. but the face is that of an animal.Two Masked Colombia Figure (Yotoco). 21/2 in. The yellower pendant is about 75 percent gold with silver and a small amount of copper. impressively pointed snout. emblems or ornaments that hang from the neck. Bequest of Nelson A. 1st-7th century Cast gold alloy. its jutting parts mixing with those of crown and mask. They are extraordinarily detailed. (Quimbaya?). -ij . While undoubtedly associated with a ritual. and it was meaningful for several centuries. The one shown above has a long. h. carefully cast Colombian figures of this early period integrate human and animal features. Bequest of Nelson A. The pendants grew larger (right). the teeth or claws of a predatory animal imbued the wearer with its fierce characteristics. the lower extremities became broader to balance the more florid top. hands. and they have been described as everything from mushrooms to gourds to ceramic vessels. although they are among the earliest complex castgold objects yet identified from South America. perhaps one related to deer. where variety of surface color was much desired.8 century cm) The Michael C. Like beads. Two of them wear spiky. Bache. 27/8 in. (7. 1979 (1979. and vegetal elements sprouted from the domes. Those of foxes. The significance of this image with its accoutrements is debated among scholars. Such mixtures were common in finished gold products in the ancient Americas. The one below on the left is pinker. h. 1979 (1979.548) Colombia (Yotoco). (9. Pendants 1st-7th century Cast gold. and a chest ornament stretches from waist to head.196. Rockefeller Memorial Collection. 1966.4 1st-7th century cm) Gift and Bequest of Alice K. (6. for instance. As with the masked figure pendants. partially obscured by the mask.549) Pendants. Bequest of Nelson A. 1979 (1979. While the style changed. during which time it became increasingly stylized. they were made from a great variety of materials.20) Colombia Cast gold. either singly or in multiples on necklaces. Rockefeller Memorial Collection.--jj Two Animal-Headed Colombia Figure Pendants (Yotoco or Quimbaya). there is no current consensus regarding the meaning of the image. bears. Empowering and protective at the same time.206. as there is a greater amount of copper in its makeup-roughly equal amounts of copper and gold with a small addition of silver.206. Staffs are held in the right hand. The domes on the cap are particularly intriguing. h.3 cm) The Michael C. (7 cm) The Michael C. abstract masks. many of them natural elements that carried meanings associated with their sources. and the great cats were worn for millennia. upright crown. The upright stance. such pendants remained important well into the era of the splendidly worked pieces illustrated on these pages.206. two domes atop the cap. leaf-shaped ears. The three small figure pendants shown on this page are less than three inches high. a small splayed animal or an animalskin bag is in the left. and a baton in each hand held up to the snout. the significant details remained the same. Rockefeller. Rockefeller. the specific rite is still in question. Rockefeller Memorial Collection.500) Other small. When displayed on the chest. numerous spirals decorated the ears. 1977 (66. 23/4 in. behind which human faces are visible. The image is complex.

77 .


23/8 in. as was technology. they were often left unpolished. The Muisca and Lake Guatavita. because of their association with shamanism. 41/4 in. and a multitude of dangles. 1979 (1979. The most serious effort was undertaken at the end of the sixteenth century by a wealthy merchant from Santa Fe de Bogota who.-HK opposite. Imagery and styles were closely related in the gold work of the area. Rockefeller Memorial Collection. 45). 10th-16th century Cast gold.7 cm) Purchase. including an emerald the size of a hen's egg. and highly polished surface. but the central zone of the lake remains untouched. Bache and Rogers Fund.opposite. It has been suggested that birds were chosen for depiction in gold. h. Although their exact species is often difficult to determine. There. Countless gold objects and other offerings. as were the two pendants with birds. Gifts in memory of Alice K. an alloy containing as much as 70 percent copper. cut a great notch-still prominent in the landscape-into the mountain on one side of the lake and lowered the water level by about sixty feet.121) Because the Muisca did not find sources of gold in their territory. cotton cloth. They were GOLD OF THE AMERICAS invariably lost-wax casts of tumbaga. scrollwork. In the centuries since the conquest countless lives and great fortunes have been lost in attempts to recover the treasures. a wide range of types is shown in a variety of ways. long. Bequest of Nelson A. with the help of eight thousand local workmen. 45/8 in.526) this page Pendant with Bird Colombia (Muisca). 4). the wings folded like arms on the birds' sides and the anthropomorphized legs give the creatures a human aspect rarely seen on Isthmian eagle pendants (see pp. Birds fly and sing. delicate herringbone and twisted-rope moldings. The dangles were attached after the initial casting. Many Muisca pieces differ from other Precolumbian gold work in function and in manufacture.-HK . 44. The Muisca people. (11. Birds are the most frequently depicted creatures in Colombian gold work. 10th-16th century Cast gold. h.206. and the town of Tunja. (6 cm) century Purchase. The surfaces on Muisca gold objects are rougher than those on objects from other areas. particularly the votive offerings called tunjos (see fig. h. bottom Pendant with Bird Colombia (Muisca).8 cm) The Michael C. They feature cut-out patterns. Bache. are associated with the famous legend of El Dorado (the Gilded Man). Bache Bequest and Gifts in memory of Alice K.168) In Precolumbian times the Isthmian countries of Costa Rica and Panama formed a single metalworking region with neighboring northwest Colombia. Alice K. which were not wearable. However. occupied the fertile basins in the high mountains of the eastern Andes in the area near the capital of Colombia. 1983 (1983. and salt for the precious metal. also known as the Chibcha. With its spread tail. top Double Eagle Pendant Colombia (Muisca). 10th-16th Cast gold. he threw quantities of gold objects into the water as offerings to the gods. the double eagle pendant resembles well-known Isthmian forms. curved beaks. Santa Fe de Bogota. a highly symbolic material in ancient American cultures. Several expeditions followed. In 1965 the Colombian government placed it under legal protection as part of the nation's historical and cultural heritage. (10. north of Santa Fe de Bogota. were recovered from the edges of the lake bed. Rockefeller. 1992 (1992. which favored lost-wax casting over hammering. they bartered emeralds. Sixteenth-centuryaccounts state that before taking office each new Muisca ruler was covered from head to foot in gold dust and conveyed on a raft to the middle of the lake. as does the spirit of the shaman on his journey to the spirit world.

....... .. . . ......IX ..

51/2 in.3 century cm) Gift of H. as seen in the detail. Masked Figure Pendant 10th-16th century h. 1969 (69. a necklace. a kidney-shaped nose ornament. They are hollow. 10th-16th h. The diamond-shaped element on the snout refers to the nose leaf of certain bat species. sometimes as tall as they are. descendants of the prehistoric Tairona people. 1991 (1991. while the square jaw and bared teeth recall crocodilian features. The tiny ornaments display minute details and are comparable to full-size examples found in Tairona tombs.10) Jan Mitchell and Sons Collection. meaning "chieftains. L. or a depiction of a shaman in the state of symbolic and spiritual transformation (assuming the features of a helping animal spirit). The human-headed pendant also has a visor or diadem. They are therefore seed dispersers or pollinators and may have symbolized fertility. (14 cm) Colombia Cast gold. a belt.7." because of their flamboyant. a rendering of a supernatural ancestor.-HK detail shown on opposite page GOLD OF THE AMERICAS Caciques are usually shown in an aggressive. Some feed on blood. awe-inspiring appearance.31) Works in gold made by the Tairona people of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in north Colombia emphasize volume and three-dimensional form. There are two types of cacique: one is fully human (above. right). perhaps as part of a ritual dance. still others feed on nectar and pollen. may indicate the edges of a mask similar to wooden ones used today by the Kogi. having been cast by the lost-wax method in tumbaga to achieve remarkable detail. Bats are also considered spirits of the forest and are often thought to be transformed birds and messengers of spirits or shamans. while others eat insects and fruit.Figure Pendant Colombia Cast gold. the other is similar but has the head of a bat or crocodilian (above. The two figures shown here are part of a small group called caciques. Bache Foundation. (Tairona). hands-on-hips stance holding spiral objects. It is not clear whether animal-faced caciques depict composite beings from Tairona mythology or are masked humans engaged in a rite or ceremony. a labret in the lower lip. In Kogi mythology the bat is said to have been the first animal in creation.419. The figure on the left is unusual because it grasps what might be rattles (one is now missing) in its raised hands. as does the one on the right. Whether a portrait of a ruler. disk-headed rods and crescent-shaped dangles through the earlobes. and armbands. Caciques range from about one to six inches in height and are among the most spectacular and detailed Precolumbian gold castings. (Tairona). -HK . left). Gift of Jan Mitchell. 51/4 in. Many species of bat are found in the tropics of Central and South America. It has been suggested that the folds defining the animal face on the figure. Loops in back indicate that they were worn as pendants. Both wear enormous headdresses. (13. with two large birds on the front and elaborate sidepieces. such a powerful image could only have been worn by individuals who were themselves powerful in Tairona society.

Here. h. (16. Originating in the same region as the pectoral shown at the top of page 11. and bats. Tolima pendants' spread "wings" have been related to both bird and bat imagery. Rockefeller Memorial Collection. early Yotoco and the minimal. with bared teeth. with not even minimal human or animal features or decorative patterns. As Sonso pieces exist in smaller numbers than Yotoco ones. 1st-7th century Cast and hammered gold. symmetrical outlines.1 cm) The Michael C. Their distinct and identifiable forms verge on abstraction.497) Anthropomorphic Pendant Colombia (Tolima). the teeth do not include the prominent fangs customarily present in predator images. The pendants with elaborate openwork midsections and "fringed" arms are puzzling. Bequest of Nelson A. 71/8 in. The slender T-shape has only the gold wire strung through the top as an ornament.206. as in these two pendants.D. perhaps a feathered one. but many centuries later in date. -j Costumed Figure Pendant Colombia (Tolima).557) 28 1 29 Pectoral Colombia (Sonso). h. an area that is poorly understood archaeologically. Rockefeller. slender noses. 1979 (1979. however. is meant by these images. foxes. floppy ears. (36. 63/8 in.2 cm) The Michael C. human details are included in aspects of the face. The Tolima gold objects known today are from undocumented finds primarily made by local people. (18. display this ability in the tall pectoral. 13th-16th century Hammered gold. Some examples with large bifurcated tails are in the form of a splayed human figure with extended "arms" and "legs. However.5 cm) Jan Mitchell and Sons Collection. than they did a thousand years earlier.419. Rockefeller Memorial Collection. 1991 (1991. Rockefeller. Bequest of Nelson A. where there was a long tradition of working the metal. and its overall simplicity underscores its distance from the ornate forms more frequent in Precolumbian gold. notably the prominent. long. they are almost flat and have strong. although it is possible that an imposing costume.206. h. this plain object amply illustrates the substantial change in aesthetic that occurred between the elaborate. 1979 (1979." Common to both pendant types are the big. a detail that has been identified with felines. The craftsmen of the Calima Valley region. yet another animal characteristic incorporated into these complex compositions.Objects in the Tolima style come from Colombia's Magdalena Valley. 143/8 in.35) Few peoples of Precolumbian America were as successful as those of southwest Colombia at working gold into forms that are essentially pure shape. Gift of Jan Mitchell. -jj . Many of the beings are depicted. late Sonso forms. it is possible that the people of the Calima region controlled fewer gold resources in the mid-second millennium A. 1st-7th century Cast and hammered gold. and the bifurcated tail to that of serpents. as little professional excavation has been undertaken there. In a limited range of shapes.

.I~~~~~as~ 9~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ T'~X ~~~~II~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~ ~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ B ~ .??.-6~ ~?.

133/4 in. The pendants.831) Compared to the lavish elite burials of the Peruvian north coast. Rockefeller. where it appears on a full figure holding a knife and/or trophy head. Named Condorhuasi. perhaps during ritual dances.21) Oval Plaque Argentina (Condorhuasi). suggesting that they were held. lst-2nd century Hammered gold. (14. with which they are partially contemporary.419.6 cm) Bequest of Alice K. -HK . h. and from later works in metal from northwest Argentina. 4th-10th century Hammered gold. This mythological figure is associated with a trophyhead cult. all vestiges of human and animal details have been eliminated. the Capuli style is also found in adjacent Ecuador.Pendant Colombia (Capuli).9 cm) The Michael C.70) The tendency toward abstract form in gold objects is nowhere more apparent than in those of the Capuli era. h. They also may have been fastened in the turbanlike headdresses of elite individuals. as they are known in Argentina. 1991 (1999.187. (11. Such repairs are not uncommon. While the basic outlines of many Capuli pendants are similar to those of other Colombian figural images. Identified with the earliest gold work from Colombia's department of Narifio. The indigenous peoples of northwest Argentina had cultural ties to other south Andean groups and followed basic southern metalworking traditions-probably introduced from highland Peru/Bolivia-but Argentine objects have a distinct character all their own. h. or placas ovales (oval plaques). Among the few objects are those with thick. lst-7th century Hammered gold. Gift of Jan Mitchell. The face on the wand above recalls a motif frequently seen on south-coast painted ceramics and textiles. south-coast tombs have yielded only modest finds of gold of simple design and technique. are among the earliest gold pieces produced there and are closest in form to their antecedents. The face has the round staring eyes. 1977 (1977. Most Precolumbian pendants have loops at the back where they cannot be seen. in the south highlands of Colombia. -jj Dance Wand with Face Peru (Nasca). 1979 (1979. the style of the pendants is quite uniform and straightforward in its geometric simplicity. and the snakes projecting from the sides and top of a creature known in Nasca iconography as the Oculate Being. is thoroughly linear and so thoughtfully conceived that the suspension loop visible at the top has been integrated into the overall design.4 cm) Jan Mitchell and Sons Collection. There is an ancient repair on the ornament's projection at the lower right. left. (34. Rockefeller Memorial Collection. Bequest of Nelson A. the toothy mouth. Bache. rigid stems. The pendant at the top. The ornaments differ from the pieces of more complex construction and iconography associated with the great highland city of Tiwanaku.206. in Bolivia. 41/2 in. 53/4 in. for a site in Catamarca Province where gold-bearing tombs were discovered.

A ceremony involving animals or animal sacrifice seems to be depicted.4 millimeters. and a snoutlike nose.-2nd century A. (14 cm) Purchase. less than 10oin. Technologically sophisticated. and one carries a small animal in a sack on its back.. double-sided plume may have been worn as a headdress decoration or as a large straight pin. A tour de force of the goldsmith's art. an open mouth showing fangs. and holds short staffs before it. This elaborately incised.D. Beneath the cut-out top of the plume is a "corral" containing four spotted animals. ties to the later highland city of Tiwanaku. perhaps ancestral.14) A number of Precolumbian gold objects have such individual shapes that their function is conjectural. ringed eyes. 1984 (1984. h. if so. an elusive but significant early manifestation associated with a site of the same name not far from Lake Titicaca in the south Andean highlands. it is incredibly even in thickness (from . wears what may be an animal-skin cloak. Hammered gold. Rays emanate from the mask. and. the narrative content of the scene is uncommon in the elaboration of ancient American gold objects. with big.3 to . in all but the "stem") and is chased on each side with a front-facing. perhaps llamas. 51/2 in. it is thought to be in the Pukara style. --j . The figure appears to be striding forward. masked figure whose body is in profile. unmasked figures in profile. the Pukara peoples had close. two hold standards. Known as the Echenique Plume for a nineteenth-century owner. The impressive mask is round. Anonymous Gift.c. Flanking it are three complex. 2nd century B.Ornamented Plume or Pin Peru (Pukara).


1991 (1991. (No effort was made to correct it. which usually wear necklaces and wrist.206. they consist of a caplike base oriented at right angles to the three-dimensional images of birds. knee.920) The staff heads from Caribbean Colombia are the most distinct type of object to come from a specific gold-working region in ancient America. Rockefeller Memorial Collection. the very sculptural staff heads were unique to the lowlands of the Zenu area (see p.Staff Head with Owl Colombia (Sinu). which is heightened by the obvious flaw on the owl's right cheek. (22. this is a notable exception. (12. The Quimbaya style was first identified in 1890.9 cm) century Jan Mitchell and Sons Collection. Rockefeller. GOLD OF THE AMERICAS that contained powdered lime made from calcined seashells. The small sculptures have considerable appeal for the modern viewer. -HK . 21). Bequest of Nelson A. 43/4 in. and elaborate openwork chest. Given the commonality of Precolumbian gold forms. Thought to be emblems of rank. and/or animals with which they are topped. as is this exceptionally elegant example displaying a boldly curved outline that creates pleasing positive and negative spaces. slightly rough cast lends the bird an air of spontaneity. in the region of the middle Cauca River. h. humans. known as poporos in Colombia. The 122 works in gold represented the funerary offerings of six important individuals buried in two tombs. beady eyes. lst-7th Cast gold. Among the objects were seventeen magnificent bottles. The heavy.1 cm) The Michael C. as does this alert owl with its wide face. Made for many hundreds of years. others are decorated with standing unclothed humans in relief. is not known. when the so-called Treasure of the Quimbayas was discovered near the village of Filandia. 9 in.419.22) The broad-shouldered gold bottles made during Quimbaya times attest to the high level of technical sophistication and the artistic sense of form developed by ancient American metalworkers.) Owls and waterbirds are among the most frequent avian images on Sind staff heads. 5th-10th century Cast gold. and ankle ornaments. Gift of Jan Mitchell. 1979 (1979. While some of the bottles are in the shape of male and female nudes. h. -jj Lime Container (Poporo) Colombia (Quimbaya). The meaning of the nude images.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~ 4~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~ ~ ~ ~~~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ . ... 44~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 4 4~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ..... . .. ..

or comma-shaped eyes. which is topped by a human head or a full figure wearing a large. Jan Mitchell and Sons seen on the beakerat the left.419. fanned-out headdress that is often embellished with stone inlays. including masks.and decoration. h.The only difference betweenthe two illustratedabove. and a wide. Hammered 10th-llth gold with turquoise century inlay.419. weight. Hammered gold.60. 1991 (1991. largecircularear ornaments.63) GOLD OF THE AMERICAS . in the art of Paracas and Moche.leadingsome researchersto suggestthat a commonprototypeor mold may have beenused. The knives. CommonamongLambayequebeakers in preciousmetal (theywere also madeof silver)are those with facesthat are upright when the vesselitselfis upsidedown. (each) Faces century 77/8 in. beakers. 10th-llth h.58) The Lambayeque culture. Gift of Jan Mitchell. (33 cm). The frontal face that appears in low relief on many Lambayeque gold objects is thought to be that of the Lord of Sican (see also pp. 57/8 in. 13 in. -HK Two Beakers with Upside-Down Peru (Lambayeque). The mouths of the faces on such beakersusually displayteeth and fangs. Such crescent-bladed implements first appeared in Peru over one thousand years earlier. (20 cm) Jan Mitchell and Sons Collection. Figure 10th-llth century h. Naymlap. developed on Peru's north coast after the decline of the Moche in the eighth century and flourished until it was conquered by the Chim6 in the twelfth century. Beaker with Repousse Peru (Lambayeque). 1991 (1991. also called tumis.opposite Ceremonial Knife (Tumi) Peru (Lambayeque). his high status is underscoredby fancy dress and emblemsof rank. One burial reportedly consisted of more than two hundred large preciousmetal objects.-HK . The royal Lambayeque tombs in the La Leche River valley contained the most impressive hoards of metal objects ever found in the Americas. Gift of Jan Mitchell. which is in thickstrandsand decoratedon the ends with disksor tassels. Hammered gold. as seen on this example. tiered headdresstopped with feathers. perhaps. (15 cm) Jan Mitchell and Sons Collection. one picturedfromthe front and the otherfrom the back. 1991 (1991. the legendary founder of the dynasty. and ceremonial knives of the kind shown here and on pages 36 and 37. also known as Sican. are among the most distinctive forms of ancient Peruvian gold work. Gift of Jan Mitchell. such as staffs held in each hand. Some scholars believe it represents the supreme Sican deity in the designof the medallion hangingfromthe cap worn over the hair. where they are held by supernatural figures seemingly engaged in acts of sacrifice. 36 and 37). Many of the beakersare verysimilarin size.61) In full-figuredepictionsof the Lordof Sican. The image is distinguished by almond. Lambayeque knives in gold and silver are too delicate to have served as tools or weapons and may have been displayed in rituals as emblems of status and power. They have a semicircular blade and a richly decorated handle.

and iconography. The shells were greatly treasuredin Precolumbiantimes and were used for many ritual and ornamental purposes.which was probablycarvedof wood. there are hands that often hold a spondylus shell. 103/8 in. As many as five gold masks. Recently.They were found in stacksof about ten of similarsize.The faces and hair (see p. 81 to 84 percent (20 karat). Presumably Batan Grande was the Lambayeque ceremonial and funerary center.4 cm) Jan Mitchell and Sons Collection. Those with upside-downfaces have the highestgold content. 1991 (1991. a site named for the modern hacienda in the La Leche River valley on which it is located. Bache.They were raisedfrom single.Funerary Mask Peru (Lambayeque). 1974. 35) were worked by hammeringthe metal over a former. Perhaps they symbolize the live ruler's penetrating gaze. 10th-llth century Hammered gold. The characteristic commashaped eyes do not appear on the faces on these beakers.-HK . (26. The faces depicted on rightside-up beakers usually appear above abbreviated torsos." the Muchik name (the language is now extinct) for Batan Grande.62) Lambayeque face beakers give the impression of being sculptures in the round of broad human heads wearing wide caps. This example is made of an alloy of 74 percent gold. cinnabar. not only because of their astonishing size but also because of their numbers.271. 191/2 in. Manufacturingthe beakersrequired great skill to preventcracking. His face was covered by a sheet-gold mask of the type shown here. usually with some copperand silverin the alloy. Gift of Jan Mitchell. are said to have been found with other precious offerings in these rich tombs. While there are no legs and feet. The tall Lambayeque beakers with flaring sides and flat bases are remarkable works. It is possible that the masks were displayed on the bodies of important Lambayeque nobles in ceremonies before their interment. and 6 percent copper.flat sheetsof gold.419. 20 percent silver. In some South American countries today red is thought to have protective qualities. archaeologists discovered the burial of a mighty Lambayeque lord.5 cm) Gift and Bequest of Alice K. and copper overlays. Much of the original pigment shows impressions made by the burial wrappings. This culture is sometimes called Sican. (49. The mask's red pigment may have been meant to protect the deceased in the afterlife. Poorly understood features on Lambayeque burial masks are the skewerlike projections from the pupils of the eyes. meaning "house [or temple] of the moon. The U-shaped copper nose ornament and copper overlays with gold dangles are also preserved.35) Beaker with Figure Displaying a Shell Peru (Lambayeque). w. It was painted with bright red cinnabar and embellished with nose and ear ornaments and dangles.-HK Some of the largest Precolumbian gold objects came from the royal burials at Batan Grande. from 10 to 29 inches in width.The largequantityof gold beakersin burialssuggeststhat they servedin ritualcontextsin courts and templesduringthe lives of importantindividualsbeforebeingplacedin their tombs. One royal tomb is said to have contained 176 such vessels. 10th-llth century Hammered gold. as shown on this massive example. shape. 1977 (1974.

:? I :::: ..?:r: .I ::::I -s-? i ar :?. r .??t - . -?*i.3--111 ?.?:: B. ..i":.: :. ..? .6 . r' --? 'Bt - ..?.? I?'??.s--:-?_ .T7-rl :.?I..:: ?':::"s i'3? ?." '? -s?::J Yi:--__ rt ?r-lr:5 :? ?.n.i..I ii j?sr . I R :j?? --:?i C` C c?? :r ? :i.??h -:.i r. S 'C`-"""'." R?l C i:::': Cl 'PS :: r 9. t:.a ?: :cQg r: i.: 8'? ra I ?: X.-i?? ?.? I :. 5 :i '-pX iir 'O 6 aiaa :V. ??.5 ?...?2? \iC -ns-a?.it ..ii..'? ' C:?P8s""Piia'"aiP?. i :?.-j -?? rsl *i '. ?r??? rl: i-?::?: RI.:6? .

2nd-7th century Cast gold.D. straighttailrepresenta type known from the Zenui regionof CaribbeanColombia. h. Thereis substantialsimilarityin the works of the two regionsfor the period in which the transfersare thoughtto have taken place.Cast by the lost-wax techniquealreadycommon in Colombia.1 cm) The Michael C. 43/8 in. is currentlybelieved. This double eagle pendantillustratesboth aspects. Comparableexampleshavebeenexcavated in Panama'sAzuero Peninsulaon the Pacific coast. and wide.How the transfertook place is not known.a lowland area not far from the Gulf of Uraba. no recordof any form of ancientinterchange between north Colombia and the CentralAmericancountriesexists today except the objectsthemselves. 1979 (1979.the twin birdswith their basicfeatures-unified head-beak.traveling. Bequest of Nelson A.538) The knowledgeof the workingof gold and other metals moved north from South America. 38 39 .as. (11. fromColombia'sGulfof Urabato the lower CentralAmericanregion that is now Panama.slightly domed bodies. The exact means may neverbe determined. Although the specific find spot of this pendantis not known.Not only is the imagerysimilarbut the objectsshare a technologicalstyle. perhapssometimeduring the second centuryA.206. Panamais its reportedprovenance. unfortunately. Rockefeller Memorial Collection.Double Eagle Pendant Panama (Initial style). One possibilityis that itinerant goldsmithsled the way.

and they continued to be produced in many styles. 1977 (1977. Adornments for the nose and ears were much less popular than in South America. At least one function associated with the eagle pendants appears to be the protection of the wearer.206. After the introduction of the technology from Colombia and the discovery of local sources of the metal in Panama and Costa Rica. (21 cm) Bequest of Alice K. and with variations of detail for centuries. (1. these countries developed their own imagery and uses.27 cm) Panama (Macaracas). While opinions differ as to the kind of bird depicted. diam. The Michael C. 11th-16th century Hammered gold. suggestions range from hummingbirds to raptors. . h. 1979 I. 81/4 in. 5th-8th century Cast gold.Eagle pendants became a particular favorite of Central American gold workers and their patrons. 1979 (1979.28) GOLD OF THE AMERICAS .206.187. Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller. sizes. Rockefeller Memorial Collection.730) Pectoral Disk Panama (Veraguas?). Bache. 8th-12th century Hammered gold and greenstone. 729. circular disks of hammered sheet gold were also made to wear as chest ornaments (right). (each) 53/4 in. 1/2 in. Although the cast pendant was a constant through the centuries.1352) (1979.6 cm) The Michael C. -JJ Nose Ornament Pair of Ear Rods Panama (Venado Beach). but a few examples remain (above). Rockefeller. They often took the shape of skullcaps. Bequest of Nelson A. the gold-working regions of Central America. some of which had elaborate raised decoration. Embellishments for the head also are more limited in number than South American models. Rockefeller Memorial Collection. (14.

. h.It came as part of a bequest in 1891. The curlytailed animals. the tail would have been the most visiblepart of the ornament.1166) 40 41 introducedinto Panamafrom Colombia.D. 23/4 in.36) Among the intriguingand much-favored Panamaniancast pendantsis the curlytailed animal. when the pendantwas worn.196.a form that is found in both Colombia and lower CentralAmerica. 1966.5 cm) Edward C.It is clearlythe significantelementof the composition. at least.vary considerablyin detail and have been identifiedas everythingfrom dogs to ducks.1. 1891 (91.Two Curly-Tailed Animal Pendants Panama (Initial style). 13/4 in. (7 cm) Gift and Bequest of Alice K. Moore. the Panamanianversionsare said to belongto the "Initial" called for the impressively largetails that extend up over their backs. Producedfor centuriesin lower CentralAmerica. Bequest of Edward C. 2nd-7th century Cast gold. (4.These "curlytails" have animalbodies. but their heads end in beaklikesnouts.they were one of the few ancient images to be made in both materials. w. Bache. -jj . Pendantsof multipleanimals-usually in even numbers. is thoughtto be simianin derivation.such as the four in a row illustratedabove-are frequent.when gold working was Panama (Initial style). The single-animalpendant shown here was one of the first Precolumbian gold objectsto enterthe Metropolitan collections. 1977 (66. perhaps adding turtle or bird attributesto the complexityof the image.the "curlytails" were renderedin both gold and semiprecious stone. 2nd-7th century Cast gold. but the tail. and. Moore Collection. Believedto date to as earlyas the second century A.

-JJ . and in objects that were traded as far north as the Yucatin Peninsula.206. However. 5th-7th century Cast gold. which is more textured and direct in depiction. while easily identifiable. (5. their arms are more like elongated fins-in one instance the fins are serrated-and the figures terminate in notched. if present in these pendants. 23/4 in. 21/4 in.7 cm) The Michael C. 5th-7th century Cast gold.The creatureholds a bar. h. arms. h. almost silken surfaces of International style objects distinguish them from much Central American gold work. Human shoulders.779) An especially impressive group of castgold ornaments from Panama and Costa Rica is known for the broad uniformity of its artistic and technological front of its long fish face. They have human faces beneath sweeping headdresses. 31/4 in. and hands are GOLD OF THE AMERICAS integratedinto the sea-horsebody. Bequest of Nelson A.206. Other International style ornaments include creatures with identifiable elements but in unexpected combinations. center. with a goateelike facial ornament. have led to their "International" designation. Bache. Rockefeller Memorial Collection. wears an additional face on its chest-a most unusual feature.Two Stylized Figure Pendants Panama (International style). 1979 (1979. Rockefeller. 1979 (19 79. While their distribution in the Americas seems to have been widespread. is not always decipherable.550) Composite Pendant Panama (International style).this pendantmay have come from that site. Bequest of Nelson A. 5th-7th century Cast gold. Correspondences with similar qualities in works from Colombia. and only a smallnumberof such objects are known fromPanama. split tails. their imagery. The example above. The two stylized figure pendants are a case in point. such as the fish-faced. Specific animal attributes. are well concealed. Sea horsesare extremely scarcein any mediumin ancientAmerica.3 cm) The Michael C. 1966.which is missingthe originaldangles. human-torsoed. (7 cm) Gift and Bequest of Alice K. h. sea-horsebodied pendant shown at the right. 1977 (66.196. Rockefeller Memorial Collection. (8. The fluid simplicity of their designs and the smooth. Rockefeller.35) Panama (International style).wheredepictions have appearedon piecesfrom Sitio Conte. While numerousPrecolumbiangold imagesintegrateelementsfrom as many as threedifferentcreatures-and sometimes those of humans-few combinationsare as rareas this one. in Cocle Province. and they appear to be in an upright stance.

8 cm) The Michael C. All are pleasing in the combination of colors and textures and in the appropriateness of material to image.187.733) There are few instances in which cast pendants included elements other than gold. 1979 (1979. Most frequently. The gemstones point to the existence of interchange between Panama and Colombia and also to the importance assigned to these objects by their makers and wearers. 8th-10th century Cast gold and greenstone.Double Bird Pendant Panama (Macaracas). (2. animal tooth.5 cm) Bequest of Alice K. Bache. h. Bequest of Nelson A. as is seen in the fine pendants illustrated here.206. h.) In those pieces composite materials.485) Double Insect Pendant Panama (Macaracas). stones of dense green tonalities. Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller. Rockefeller Memorial Collection.5 cm) The Michael C. and texture. where a group of objects considered Macaracas in style were produced in materials that varied in substance. 1 in. -JJ 43 . white shell. (The style is named for the era's polychrome ceramics. 8th-10th century Cast gold and quartz. (3. 1979 (19 79.20) Double Crocodile Pendant Panama (Macaracas). color. which were deposited as grave offerings together with the gold objects. 11/2 in. A pair of human torsos with birds' heads (top) and a pair of crested crocodiles (bottom) have quartz tails. Rockefeller Memorial Collection. 13/4 in.206. (4. while the tiniest ornament (center) is embellished with tails of brilliant greenstone. 1977 (1977. the additions formed the tails of the gold images. quartz of translucent pinkish hues. h. Rockefeller. One of the most successful occurred in central Panama. and even large Colombian emeralds were used. 8th-10th century Cast gold and quartz.

and iguanas have numerous diverse associations among indigenous American peoples.17) detail shown at right The elegance of workmanship and mastery of representation realized in the so-called crested-crocodile pendants are indications of the great significance these ornaments had in central Panama at the end of the first millennium A. slight variations between the figures developed. which. toothy crocodilian snout with the extended. Crocodilians. (9. and in excavations they have proved to belong to the wealthiest persons of their time and place. and they continued to be incorporated for most. 1991 (1991. might relate crocodiles to earth and water. cm) Gift of Jan Mitchell. Crested crocodiles are composite creatures made up of different human and animal elements. 33/4 in. the aggregate is puzzling. and iguanas to sky. but reversed.419. however. The doubling shown on this page places two figures in an identical. at their simplest. however. -j GOLD OF THE AMERICAS .5 and Sons Collection. The combination of the various animal features. Double figural elements are found in some of the earliest identified Central American gold objects.D. Cast gold and shell. But such simplification does not help in understanding the pendants' imagery.Grand depictions of the creatureswere made in gold in both cast and hammered forms. perhaps suggesting a difference in rank or in gender between them.Double Crocodile Panama Pendant 8th-10th (Macaracas). the upwardly curled nose related to that of a bat. must have had a specific import that increased the wearer'sstatus and the ability to control natural and/or supernatural forces. With time. Salient among the meaningful characteristics are the long. of the centuries the metal was in native use. if not all. bats to night. and the flowing crest thought to derive from the iguana's. image and probably served to increase the power of the individual representations. bifurcated tongue. bats. and while the details can be isolated and identified. Jan Mitchell century h.

Bird imagery remained important to indigenous belief in the region into the twentieth century. Eaglependantsexist today in substantial numbersand come from a wide area. h.Few ancient American gold objects are as well known today as the so-called eagle pendants.called Sibo or Sibu (Creatorof All Things). Rockefeller Memorial Collection. However. Rockefeller. In central Costa Rica the last native chief of the Talamanca. the surfaceis 21-karat. (14 cm) The Michael C. accounting for a wide range of reddish and yellowishgold tones. 11th-16th century Cast gold. 7).907) [4 4 symbolicmeaningof such imagesin gold in ancienttimes is not known. High-flying eagles and hawks were often linked to the sun. Bird pendants of the type illustrated here were first named aguilas (eagles) by Columbus. 51/2 in. had six gold eagle pendants among his official regalia. given the great variety in the shapes and sizes of the beaks. who died in 1910. the Double Eagle Pendant Panama (Veraguas).-HK . and there is much speculation about the species represented on the pendants. since their makers did not leave written records." when he sailed along the Caribbean coast of Central America in the early 1500s. The surfacesof tumbaga objects were usually enriched by the mise en couleurprocess(see p. Many varieties of birds abound in Central America. from Costa Rica to north and central Colombia.Metalworkersin this region favoredlost-wax castingover hammering and for the most part used the gold-andcopperalloy known as tumbaga. 1979 (1979. The interiorof the pendantat the left is 9-karatgold.Collarsor necklacesare standard featureson birdpendantsthroughoutthe Isthmianregion (left and right). who observed them being worn by local people hung from their necks.The percentagesof copperin the alloys varied. Bequest of Nelson A.takes the form of a kite or buzzardthat wears a collar. Todayin the mythologyof the Bribriof Costa Rica the principaldeity.206. Some researchers believe that they are birds of prey because of the prominent beaks and claws and the various items often held in them. as "an Agnus Dei or other relic.

Eaglesassignedto the Veraguas regionof Panama(farleft and far right) are sharp-edgedand have cleaneroutlines than those from Chiriqui(locatedon both sides of the Costa Rica/Panamaborder). crescent-shapedwings balancingthe long side extensionsof the tails. Veraguas-style birds are rarely shown holding small animals in their beaks or talons. Rockefeller. Bequest of Nelson A. Chiriquibirds.On the head of the GOLD OF THE AMERICAS Chiriqui bird illustrated in the center two tufts echo the shapes of the wings. The powerful beak holds a small four-legged creature. Despite the consistentbasic morphology.Two Eagle Pendants Panama or Costa Rica (Chiriqui).and a choker-stylenecklace. and fanned-out tail. (9. and those of the bird at the right are funnel shaped. emphasizeverticality. 33/4 in. ascending visual rhythm. Rockefeller.906) Panama (Veraguas). 8). 11th-16th century Cast gold. 1979 (1979.tufts in the form of crocodiles in profile.ear ornaments. on the other hand.a number of featuresallow for specificstylisticattributions. Rockefeller Memorial Collection. 11th-16th century Cast gold. (14. The heads of Veraguaseaglesare often more elaboratethan those of Chiriqui examples.The eyes of the double-headed bird are bulbousand containclappers. 55/8 in.3 cm) The Michael C.206. h.540) Isthmiandepictionsof birdsemphasize the head.206. creating a pleasing. which have more roundedcontours(center and fig.with wide.the lattereagle has a head crest. spreadwings. Wingsand tails on Veraguas eagles arecomposedlaterally.5 cm) The Michael C. Bequest of Nelson A. the headsvary most in detail. 1979 (1979.-HK . h.In addition. Rockefeller Memorial Collection.

Some of the most poisonous frogs.are gold colored.1072) Panama (Chiriqui?).a tropicalregionwhere numerousspecies abound. well as inlays of shell or stone.or keepers.a pervasiveserpent symbol. 1991 (1991. In South Americanlore the croaking of frogs foretellsdeath and the journeyto the underworld. (6. may be depictedat the top.They also appearin myths about man'sacquisitionof fire. notably Dendrobates.The spiralsaround the mouth of the frog at the bottom may be symbolsof water.Most of them have "fire"in them.The Bribriof south Costa Rica considerthem burialhelperswho sit on graves to prevent the deceased from arisingto troublethe living. (7 cm) Gift of Meredith Howland. 11th-16th century Cast gold. h.-HK 46 47 .The hind feet are oversized. perhapsto betterreflectthe sunlight.with scrolls and spiralsin cast filigree.6) Frogsare frequentlydepictedin many sizes and styles in the gold work of Costa Rica and Panama. 21/2 in. Many have poisonousskins and are vibrantly colored.Three Frog Pendants Costa Rica (Chiriqul). This frog is also a bell: its bulbous eyes containclappers. from small terrestrialfrogs to giant tree frogs. thin hind legs. with its long.emergefrom the sides of its mouth as stylizedsplit scrolls.which gave the style its name-are often ornate. (10.419.A tree frog. 41/s in. of which they are donors.1) Panama (Parita). 11th-16th century Cast gold. 1979 (1979. h. Bequest of Nelson A. 1904 (04. Gold frogs from the AzueroPeninsulaof Panama. h.206. carriers. Gift of Jan Mitchell.34. Rockefeller Memorial Collection.where the examplein the middle was found-reportedly nearthe Parita River. In many Precolumbianculturesfrogs and toads were associatedwith water and vegetation. Bifurcatedtongues. 23/4 in.5 cm) Jan Mitchell and Sons Collection.flattenedrectangles.4 cm) The Michael C. as they produce toxins. 12th-16th century Cast gold and tooth inlay.

(10. 11th-16th century Cast gold. 4 in. These three examples are hollow cast with clappers in their bellies. h. turtles are earth and water symbols and appear frequently in Precolumbian art from Mexico to Panama. and even as a medium of exchange. Turtle shells were used as drums and have been found in Maya tombs and in Aztec offerings. costume ornaments. Bache. Many gold pendants are bells. Their functions were numerous and diverse: they were used as musical instruments. 11th-16th century Cast gold. 21/4 in. but they are rare in images from Colombia and Peru. and spiders and range in height from under one inch to four inches. Rockefeller Memorial Collection. h. as the domed. 1977 (66. and Mexican and Maya altars and thrones are sometimes in the form of turtles. in the elaboration of the heads and backs. A curious and still unexplained feature is the bifurcated tail. birds. (5.196. enclosing shape of the shell is well suited to hold a clapper.50) Panama (Veraguas). funerary and sacrificial offerings.-HK .2 cm) Gift and Bequest of Alice K. h.271.206. The turtles vary widely in detail.489) Panama (Veraguas). crabs.4) GOLD OF THE AMERIC Bells were produced in large numbers in many materials. Like frogs and toads. as. Bequest of Nelson A. 11th-16th century Cast gold. Bache. for example. shapes. 21/4 in. holds a doubleended serpent that forms a circle. The clappers were contained in the core material and were released when that material was removed through slits on the undersides of the objects after casting.7 cm) The Michael C. (5. 1979 (1979. and sizes throughout the Precolumbian era. 1974.7 cm) Gift and Bequest of Alice K. 1977 (1974. 1966. The turtle at left. center. Rockefeller.Three Turtle Pendants Panama (Veraguas). Earth gods are often shown emerging from turtle shells. Those from Costa Rica and Panama are often in the shapes of turtles. Turtle-pendant bells form a sizable group.

peccaries. 31/4 in. part human and part animal.206. or kill: bats. and deer.7) Panama (Chiriqui). -HK 48 49 . Those most commonly portrayed are ones that bite. 11th-16th century Cast gold. (9. Essential food animals mentioned in sixteenth-century documents.34.2 century cm) The Michael C. Bequest of Nelson A. 1904 (04. without the incorporation of characteristics of other animals. Among the creatures that are always depicted naturalistically. I. That goldsmiths were selective in their images is an indication that the creatures they depicted were linked to myths and beliefs not understood today for lack of indigenous records or of European accounts at the time of the conquest. spiders. Animals and composite beings. purely human figures are rare. birds of prey. are sharks. jaguars. I.Two Shark Pendants Panama (Chiriqui). sting. crocodiles. 11th-16th Cast gold. and they are particularly ferocious predators. such as tapirs. are rarely shown. they also may be symbols of regeneration and renewal. Sharks are inhabitants of the sea. 1979 (1979.1054) The subject matter of Isthmian gold work is mainly figural.5 cm) Gift of Meredith Howland. Since sharks constantly replace their teeth. 33/4 in. and sharks among them. predominate. thought by many ancient Americans to be the entrance to the underworld. Rockefeller. Rockefeller Memorial Collection. (8.

and travelerssincethe sixteenth centuryand the initial favorableEuropean response. not far from the Panamanianborder. branchedantlersand a long.In other regionsdeer enjoyeda specialplace as intermediariesbetween wild creaturesand humansand were.arrayedin a belt and leg bands.419.A similardiscoveryof ancientburialswas made in the early 1960s at PuertoGonzalezViquezon the BuricaPeninsulaof Costa Rica. Gift of Jan Mitchell.419. in some instances. 1991 (1991.Deer-Head Bell Costa Rica (Chiriqui).Nonetheless. giving the animals the appearance of unicorns.particularlyon ceramic vessels. 11th-16th Cast gold. The animalscould be made as hollow. exhibitsthe requisitedeer attributes-curled. explorers.where they are an important costume element. Originatingin the northwestPanama/southwestCosta Rica region. squared-offnose. The anthropomorphized pendantshown here. Leg bands are worn to this day by tropicalforest peoplesin the Americas.2) Deer-Headed Figure Pendant Costa Rica (Chiriqui). when an importantburial areawas broughtto light in Panama's ChiriquiProvince. (10. The gold bell is topped by facing deer heads with antlers so curled they are twisted into one horn. one of the few. The protruding tongue may indicatedeath-deer hunts were especiallyprevalentin certainareas of the ancientAmericas-and depictions of the dying animalsincludeextended tongues. that beast was not part of ancient American IGOLD OF THE AMERICAS mythology.they excited antiquarianinterestin the late 1850s.few pieces from the 1850s find can be tracedtoday.At the time Chiriqui objectswere considered"grotesque"and "fantastic"by groupssuch as the American EthnologicalSocietywhen exampleswere presentedat theirNewYork meetings.Smallbells cast in animal forms are often appealingto the modern eye.The deer-headedfigurependantis reported to have come from that find. 1991 (1991. The figure's feet are distinctive: the four long toes are neither human nor cervine. 41/4 in.)The deer are renderedwith such engagingspontaneitythat they seem to be conversing.5 cm) century Jan Mitchell and Sons Collection. and may represent the webbed hind feet of a crocodilian. -jj .8 century cm) Jan Mitchell and Sons Collection. it is not common in gold. Whiledeerimageryis frequentin lower CentralAmerica. h.3) Chiriquistyle pendantsare the most massivelyconceivedof any preconquestCentral Americancast-goldtype. (However. llth-16th Cast gold. Gift of Jan Mitchell. (4.lacks the collar and loincloththat frequentlyappearin depictionsof humans in CentralAmericangold work. The figure. They were the firstPrecolumbiangold objectsto attractthe attentionof scholars.three-dimensional imageswith clappersinsidetheir bodies or as decorations for the top of a bell. h.associatedwith the majorityhave not survived. 13/4 in. as here.

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of so yellow and shining a metal that he at once suspected them to be gold .9 cm) Gift and Bequest of Alice K. as the feature is the defining characteristic of human-bat representations. in a very short time (three or four days) he succeeded in exhuming no less than seventy-five pounds' weight of these images. Bache. The figure is adorned with ornamented leg bands. of the great gold discoveries of this gold-discovering age. h. the upswept. Different in elaborative detail. 13th-16th century Cast gold. 1904 (04. batnosed single male figure sits upon a framework that looks almost architectural. if so.196. 1859.196. (7. in the province of Chiriqui (New Granada)while wandering through the forest in the vicinity of his cabin. (7. It was said to have come from gold finds made in 1858-59. Upon examination it proved to contain. Undoubtedly. such as those of lowland Panama.. 3 in. Protruding eyes are associated with the nose leaf in Panama and Costa Rica. and many eyes are actually depicted on small stalks-possibly in reference to what was believed to be the bat's acute sight.. a fact perhaps understood by ancient American peoples and. 12th-16th century Cast gold. h. in the HE AM Chiriqui area of Panama/Costa Rica. just occurred on the Isthmus of Panama. relatively early in the Metropolitan's collecting history. divers images of curious and fantastic shape. 31/8 in. On a day in the latter part of June last a native of Bugalita-a small town in the district of Boqueron. which were reported in the August 6. although a lack of precedent for architectural details in gold pendants may indicate another meaning. 11th-16th century Cast gold. leaflike nose is still believed to be related to bats.34) detail shown at right The identification of certain facial features on Central American figure pendants with those of bats led earlier researchers to propose that "bat gods" were depicted. 1966. encountered a tree which had been prostrated by a recent tempest. The simpler double pendant with the less stylized nose leaves was acquired in 1904.. Leaf-nosed bats hunt food as small and mobile as insects. Organic materials do not survive well in the wet soils of tropical environments.17) Two Double Bat-Nosed Figure Pendants Panama (Chiriqui). The carefully executed. wrapped in swathing of half-decayed cloth. as do the two pendants illustrated here. In Central America the nose leaf could be stylized as a large loop or multiple loops. Double figures with bat attributes frequently hold standards or paddle-like objects in their outside hands.. a wide collar. Bache. 3 in. it was made of shell cut in the flaring shape seen on the pendant above.Bat-Nosed Figure Pendant Costa Rica (Diquis). The nose leaf is part of the sensing device.6 cm) Gift and Bequest of Alice K. 26). not the least interesting. primarily by emitting sounds reflected back to them by their prey. While today students of Precolumbian imagery do not support the divinity theory. issue of Harper's Weekly: . 1977 (66. probably revered by them. The figures on the more ornate pendant are missing the upper section of the standard. the figures are nonetheless the same image: they are dressed in loincloths and wide collars and hold short staffs in the inside hand and standards in the outside hand. and underneath its upturned roots he espied a small earthen jar. (7. 1977 (66. and what may be a short crown of feathers.6 cm) Gift of Meredith Howland. and the shell has disintegrated with time and burial.34. h. 1966.8) Panama (Parita). -jj . In Colombia it could be an elongated diamond (see p.

the group of reptilesthat includescrocodilesand caimans. The figures are usually nude males wearing braided belts. The distinguishingelement of the crocodilianface is the long. Unusual on the double-figure pendant is that they are not identical. l1th-16th century tions of full-figure reptiles exist. Rockefeller. clan markers. Rockefeller Memorial Collection. 43/4 in. (12.such as lizardsand iguanas. at the top. and leg bands. Nostrils are sometimes shown as delicate curls (bottom). or are emphasized by small. as seen here. and the many-fingered hands and feet often found on human images of this period. sometimes a turtlefloating on the sea. (13 cm) The Michael C. square-ended snout. In more complex compositions features are included that are not immediately identifiable. llth-16th century Cast gold. or as a wide tubular element (top).recentstudiessuggestthat saurians. -HK . perhaps depicting stylized bird's wings. ears. Bequest of Nelson A. mythical warriors.may be represented. Bequest of Nelson A. Althoughreptile motifs have traditionallybeen interpreted as crocodilian. Rockefeller Memorial Collection. Ethnographic analogy suggests that they may refer to the celestial realm and the underworld and that the figures symbolize powerful beings able to mediate between the forces of these worlds. Frequently. legs. horizontal elements. one is shown wearing a loincloth. as in the pendant above. Crocodilians are among the world's most ancient inhabitants and have many symbolic meanings in the lore of indigenous American peoples. constricted crescent shapes. 1979 (1979. and shamans in a state of trance imbued with an animal spirit. the creature's back being uneven and roughly textured like the earth's surface. Crocodilians. the meaning of which is not well understood. In lieu of arms it has flat. and noses. How they were viewed in Precolumbian times is not clear today.While naturalisticrendi- Crocodile-Masked Figure Pendant Panama (Veraguas). 51/8 in.1 cm) The Michael C. Suggestions for the meaning of animalheaded or masked figures include deities. In the worldview of the ancients the earth was a giant reptilesometimes a crocodile. crocodilians usually appear as masks worn by humans.contrastto the horizontalplaquesabove and below the figure. such figures are anchored between two flat. often open and displayingteeth. man-animal heroes.areprominentin the iconography of Isthmiangold work. vary but are always prominent.206.777) Double Crocodile-Headed Figure Pendant Panama (Veraguas).both of which are nativeto tropicalregionsin the Americas. stylized crocodilians in profile (opposite). such as eyes. Rockefeller. w. 1979 (1979. The crescents create a strong visual Cast gold. but one Pan-American belief associated them with the earth. chest ornaments. In some instances the bodies are fully human with arms. w.206.885) 52 1 53 Other features.

Stylized crocodile heads in profile with open mouths. Rockefeller Memorial Collection. Particularly striking are the mirrorlike pyrite inlays in the eyes and chest cavity. Perhaps the rattling sound was meant to keep evil forces away or to summon good spirits to protect the wearer from harm. Bequest of Nelson A. It has a male body and a movable crocodilian head with a large. toothed animal heads increases the ferocious aspect of the image. spiral ear ornaments. together with the highly polished gold surface. Rockefeller. 6 in. 11th-16th century Cast gold with pyrite inlay. fearsome mouth displaying several sharp teeth. The figure wears a patterned.206. Inside the head is a small clapper. and a very unusual headdress with spikes. h.1064) detail shown above Figure pendants with articulated parts are rare among Precolumbian gold finds.2 cm) The Michael C. Cast in two parts by the lost-wax technique. -HK GOLD OF THE AMERICA . would have reflected bright sunlight. teeth. this impressive broadshouldered figure is hinged at the neck (detail). which. possibly representing feathers. cast-filigree belt. (15. They are said to have come from the Diquis Delta area of Costa Rica and from the Chiriqui region. The compilation of these small. 1979 (1979.Crocodile-Headed Figure Pendant Costa Rica (Chiriqui). dazzling the onlooker. and curled noses appear on the tips of the ears and on top of the nose. visible under the lower jaw.

Cast gold. the items were precious to the Maya people and were placed in burials.412. if not its own style. Rockefeller Gift. gold works began to be traded north to the Maya area (upper Central America and south Mexico). must have had its own goldsmiths.22 16th century cm) Gift of Jan Mitchell and Sons. itinerant goldsmiths?). in memory of Ellin Mitchell. and sacred places for hundreds of years. workshops for the local fabrication of gold pieces were established north of the Maya area is presently unclear. and by what means (again. Bernal Diaz del Castillo. Frog Ornaments Mexico (Mixtec/Aztec). Nelson A. Some two thousand years after gold nuggets were first fashioned into valued objects in South America. a foot soldier for Cortes. 15th-early 16th century Cast gold. (each) 15th-early 7/8 in. 23/8 in.20) opposite. (2. Although the Mixtec style in gold is pervasive throughout much of Mexico during the late preconquest centuries. has yielded important burials of elegant and sophisticated gold objects.39. Motecuhzoma's powerful capital city in the central highlands. Sixteenth-century Spanish accounts testify to the uses and significance of the precious metal to Motecuhzoma. Aztec Tenochtitlan. When. if not earlier. wrote .200a.1-. h.Mexico was the last region in Precolumbian America to work precious metals. (6 cm) The Michael C. In modern times south Mexico. Purchase. caches. 1998 (1998. left Pair of Earflare Ornaments Mexico (Mixtec/Aztec). 1967 (1978. h. Rockefeller Memorial Collection. the technologies for which must have existed there among the dominant Mixtecs by the fourteenth century. Coming from lower Central America/ Colombia. b) 54 1 5 notably the state of Oaxaca.

including pendant bells and red and green beads. a marvelous piece of work. complexcreatures. nose. century cm) Memorial A. The heads. the birds' heads and their cascade of small bells well illustrate the Mexican penchant for repeated. such as those to which this pair of birds' heads (above) would have been attached. Hammered gold. the plaques depict feathered serpents. and Montezuma himself placed it around the neck of our Captain Cortes. the ornaments' movement and sound would have added to their presence and appeal. had at hand a very rich necklace made of golden crabs. were also worn by the Aztec nobility.-jj . They were undoubtedly strung as a necklace like one presented to Cortes. The Michael Bequest 13th-15th h. as illustrated by these delicate gold plaques that apparently came from an El Chanal burial. the god of flowers. Luxury goods increased in sophistication. El Chanal. (7. Believed to have come by sea from Ecuador. music. Rockefeller of Nelson (1979. A major center on the banks of the Colima River. and fishhooks were made for centuries before their introduction into west Mexico.." The frog ornaments shown at leftthe Aztecs associated frogs with water and fertility-are reputed to have been discovered in the south Mexican state of Chiapas. Although not as well finished as the frogs. GOLD OF THE AMERICAS imagesassociatedwith the centralhighland site of Tula. now in the state of Colima. where rings (for hair. ducks. -jj Two Feathered-Serpent Ornaments Mexico (Toltec?/Chanal).interpretationsof them differedover time. and dance.capitalof the Toltecs. 1979 . or ear). are often identified with Xochipilli. The grandest comprised many additional elements. 27/8 in.3 C. cast-gold images of humans and animals-shrimp. They rangefrom extraordinaryrepresentationsof deitiesto less awesomeprotectiveimages. Collection.. needles. A region somewhat isolated from the important cultural events of central and south Mexico. awls. Perhaps part of ear-ornament assemblages.which collapsedin the late twelfth century. its metallurgical history began in the seventh century. which became a specialty of the region and continued to be made until European intrusion and the disruption of the native industry. for example -made up the collars and neckpieces described in sixteenth-century reports. Multiples of intimately scaled. When worn. the technique was one of cold hammering. and doglike creatures.Featheredserpentsare ancient. Lostwax casting was eventually added to the techniques and used primarily for small bells.1153) The story of metalworking in the west of Mexico differs from that of the rest of the country.206.while generallyregardedas benevolent.1152. with their impressive beaks and three-pronged The True History of the Conquest of New Spain (first published in 1632) of an encounter in which "the Great Montezuma . suspended elements in precious-metal adornments. tweezers. when a copper-based technology was established. Rockefeller. Richly decorated earflares. grew to prominence in the thirteenth century when it had ties to the larger Mexican world.Its people were dispersedwidely throughout Mexico and probablyas far west as Colima.

instigating the search for precious American metals that would be a major obsession of conquerors. by Bernhard von Breydenbach. Lenox. Columbus asked repeatedly about gold. Columbus was so cheered at the sight of the gold that the island chieftain-who wished to see him even more pleased-told the dismayed. He told of the innumerable peoples he had encountered. the search for gold was one of the driving factors in the exploration and colonization of the vast. While the crew attended to the damaged vessel. exotic fruits. During the earliest years of European expansion onto the American continents. Woodcut (detail) from Perigrinatio in terrum sanctam. and opportunists for centuries. and Tilden Foundations This vessel. . grounded mariner that the precious metal was abundant nearby and gave him an impressive mask inset with large pieces of gold. To Columbus. This astonishing letter was eagerly received in Spain and initially published in Latin in the spring of 1493. The New YorkPublic Library. The Santa Maria was firmly stuck on the banks of an island that Columbus named Espafiola (Hispaniola). telling them of the newfound lands across the western sea and the rich islands of the Indies. on Christmas Eve in a calm sea. and of mines for gold and other metals. Convinced that fabled Cipangu was not far from the small island on which he had landed. preserve. ran aground. He made the first inquiries into local sources. and extend access to The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin ® www. he reported that he had claimed the islands for the Spanish sovereigns. driven by the search for the wealth that would be a tangible indicator of a successful voyage. En route to Spain.. he thought he found the evidence he was seeking. the island of "endless gold. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain-thereby initiating what would become the vast Spanish empire in America. Mainz. Merchant Ship. unknown lands. Columbus wrote to the king and queen. his ship. The existence of the two great continents had been unsuspected in Europe until the fateful day in October 1492 when Christopher Columbus landed on an "island in the Indies. travelers. the quantity of gold they have is endless . The island's inhabitants greeted Columbus with curiosity."-Marco Polo Figure 1. the discovery of vast quantities of gold would be both a personal reward and a paramount sign of the triumph of his vision. colonists. claimed it for his sponsors. of birds. Columbus attempted to learn more about the availability and quantity of the gold. . 1486. This evidence and the prospect of much more led Columbus to believe that the shipwreck had been providential. where the news was disseminated quickly.GOLD OF THE INDIES "." about which he had read with great excitement in Marco Polo's Travels. a master mariner then in the service of Spain and an avid reader. By the end of the fifteenth century it had been printed in numerous editions in various cities in Europe. trees. and plants.. Some wore little pieces of gold suspended from holes in their noses. Astor. In a letter amazingly brief for the magnitude of its contents. . was searching for Cipangu (Japan). the Santa Maria. Intrigued by these ornaments. When. local people arrived to trade bits of gold for brass hawks' bells carried by the sailors. called a nao in Spanish. of the rivers that contained gold. According to the journal he wrote about his voyage.jstor. is of the type sailed by Christopher Columbus in 1492 westward across the Atlantic Ocean on his voyage that led to the discovery of the Americas. GOLD OF THE AMERICAS The Metropolitan Museum of Art is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize. Columbus went ashore and. unfurling royal standards. he found them to be handsome and very gentle. Rare Books Division." having miscalculated the circumference of the globe by about 25 percent. As he sailed among the islands of the Indies searching for the wealthy courts of Asia.

shields and helmetscoveredin turquoisemosaic. and in the spring of 1520 the treasurewas presentedto the newly elected Holy Roman emperor. ear ornaments. and gold figures of men and of llamas. that are much more beautiful to behold than things of which miraclesare made. where temple walls were covered with gold and golden pots held golden treasure.The same fate befell the royal treasuryof the Aztecs. Gift and Bequest of Alice K. The ransom was immense. FranciscoPizarro. concentratingpower and wealth in royal hands. and objects of more ephemeralmaterialswere discarded. Yet this treasure did not buy freedom for Atawalpa or his kingdom. Atawalpa filled a large room with gold and two rooms with silver. a whole yard wide. Shortlythereafterhe set out for Inka Peru.271. and learned men commentedupon them.and held him for ransom.Personaladornmentsof gold-diadems.In an effort to gain his freedom. likewise a whole silver moon. Cort6sheard. despite the fact that duringhis second voyage he learnedthat there was no mine on Espafiola. Cort6ssent the gifts to Spain. Hammered from a single sheet of gold. The use of precious metals was restrictedto the Inka nobility.multistrandnecklaces with hundredsof gold beads and red and green stones. wonderful things for various uses. Pectoral.where he imprisonedMotecuhzoma and sacked the treasury. (23. of the gifts "broughtto the King from the new golden land: a whole golden sun.pectorals-of great size and substance were produced during the first millennium. also equally big. Cort6s.miniaturegardensmade entirely of gold. diadems.encounteredcommunities with abundant gold and silver. as a broad-nosed face with no lower jaw. and in the mid-1520s another adventurer. -JULIE 4 1 5 JONES . The Spaniards greatly admired the quality and were astonished at the imagery of the Mexican gold objects they encountered.The rooms were stacked high with tubs of the metals. Bache. platelike tiles of gold. earrings. and by the sixteenth centurygold and silver creationswere highly imaginativeand included. either as mirror-image birds' heads with great hooked beaks or. 1974. and followed." Unfortunately. when he and his men ambushedthe Inka ruler.CharlesV. Pizarrohurriedto Spain and successfullypetitioned to become governor in the central highlands. The ruler was the Aztec king Motecuhzoma (MontezumaII). Cast gold. An ornament was originally suspended from the open nasal septum of the powerful face. Bell Ornament. as the precious metal was chiefly taken from rivers and streams. in the diary of his journey to the Netherlands (1520-21).the dream of incrediblyrich royal courts and a seemingly endless supply of gold had come true.C.a silver disk of the same size. 15th-16th century. 1999 (1999. hollow gold ornamentscast in complex shapes. (2. 91/4 in. The lure of the golden cities continued.brilliantfeatherfans and headpieces. Wishing to gain control of the region for himself. the richest of all the Americankingdoms.365) Among the earliest gold works made in the Americas.5 cm). Making his much-notedway into the interior from the Gulf Coast. this wide pectoral shows the command of material and degree of showmanship already present in objects of north Peru. marched on to Tenochtitlan. Great excitementgreetedthe wondrous objects. whose capital city was Tenochtitlan.Gold mines were rare in the Americas. Preciousmetals had been worked in Peru for some three thousand years before Pizarro arrived. he sent emissariesto Cort6swith extravagantgifts: a gold disk the size of a cartwheel. Pizarrogained access to this fortune in 1532. were renderedinto neat bars. and the rich temple fixtures.The cartwheelsof gold and silver and all the precious-metalpieces were melted down. Rumors of gold broughtHernan Cort6s and several hundredmen to Mexico in 1519. tantalizingtales of a powerful ruler and immensewealth. and none of the works from this hoard is known to have survived.such learned interest and appreciationwere of modest duration. it displays complex imagery that can be read two ways.5 cm).the rest arrivedas bullion.and figuresof gold and mosaic. Mexico (Mixtec/Aztec).49) This small head of cast gold was probably part of a necklace that belonged to a powerful Aztec lord when Hernan Cortes arrived in Mexico in 1519. king of Spain. h. The country was stripped of its wealth. Hammered gold. and many other objects.. Gift of Jan Mitchell.He saw the treasure in Brusselsin August 1521 and wrote. far from being deterredby the rich presentshe was offered. Jan Mitchell and Sons Collection.Wishing to prevent the arrivalof the Spaniardsin his city.The search for gold became a predictablepart of the Europeanexperiencein the Americasfrom Columbus'sday onward. likewise two chambersfull of. Figure 3.sailing along the Pacificcoast of Colombia. elaborategarmentsand costumes-all were among the exotic and wonderfullystrange objectsthe Spaniardsreceivedas tribute. 6th-2nd century B. when rotated.and the search for them was compulsivelypursued. 1 in. armbandsof silver. w. Yet the notion of accessibilityto great riches endured.Much of the contents went to Spain. Peru (Chavin). Figure 2.Atawalpa (Atahuallpa). No opinion is betterknown or valued than that of AlbrechtDurer.. Forty years after ChristopherColumbus saw modest bits of gold among the peoples of cornstalks. as well as the precious gardenswith earth of gold granules. 1977 (1974. accordingto the accounts of Spanishchroniclers. but only a few of the most exceptional pieces reached there in the shapes made by the Mexican artisans.

*La Paz Sihuas River ) ?Tiwanaku CHIE Srq GeographicalFeature COUNTRY c. and extend access to The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin ® .jstor. Quito . *La Paz Pukarao Titicaca. ECUADOR BRAZIL Tairona Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta COSTA RICA eSan Jos& Diquis Delta Osa Peninsula CHIRIQUi Burica Point PANAMA *PanamaCity ?VenadoBeach oSitio Conte VERAGUAS Parita River oBatanGrande Salinaro Lambayeque Chimu Moche Chavino SinGu\. 0 * Capitol City o ArchaeologicalSite Caima River Peoples ? Calima z Nasca River Bogota Muisca PROVINCE 250 miles o _ Titicaca. B )LIVIA CHIE Tolima Hart The Metropolitan Museum of Art is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize. preserve. : 2 PERU Lima? oGf Urha - DARIEN COLOMBIA Azuero Peninsula oMachu CuzcOo Quimbaya Lake Guatavita. LaTolitao Tuma I.CUBA MEXICO Chichen Itzao Yucatan Peninsula Mexico Cityo M ICHOACAN Tenochtitlan Aztec HItPANIOLA Mixtec GUERRERO OAXACA HONDURAS 0 Ml CARIBBEAN SEA NC NICARAGUA COSTARICA PANAMA VENEZUELA I. Calima PACIFIi II COLOMBIA I.

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