Gold objects rapidly became the primary
symbols of authority and prestige in ancient
Panamanian society. Important people bedecked
their bodies with gold. They used it to bribe
allies and to pay ransoms for captured sons. In
times of danger, they hoarded it in secret places
in large baskets. Customarily referred to as a
'god', this magnificent gold pendant is more
reasonably interpreted as a tribal man-animal
culture hero, a mythical warrior, or an alter ego.
One of the first most notable characteristics of
this dynamic figure is the long, gently curving
beak. This might be interpreted as an eagle or a
King Vulture. There is a curious triangular-
shaped headdress positioned on his forehead.
Two dramatically twisting serpents or iguanas
flow from the top of his head. The consumption
of iguana meat, associated with warrior elites,
had a ritual significance in ancient Panama.
Below the wide spread arms or "wings", this
gallant figure is clad in a belt. Since the belt
emanates from the area of the penis, it possibly
has sexual or procreative significance.
Protruding forth from the knees are two heads
with prominent crocodilian teeth and upturned
snouts ending in a volute. The technological
skill, refined style and complex subject matter of
this glimmering gold pendant is unsurpassed by