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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Archive : Pre-Columbian Art / Tairona Gold Knob of a Staff Featuring a Jaguar and a Snake
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Pre-Columbian Art / Tairona Gold Knob of a Staff Featuring a Jaguar and a Snake - FJ.6199
Origin: Tairona Region of Colombia
Circa: 600 AD to 1600 AD
Dimensions: 3.25" (8.3cm) high
Catalogue: V23
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Gold

Additional Information: SOLD

Location: United States
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Gold, used as an emblematic adornment and as religious/funerary offerings, were crucial to ceremonial activity that helped maintain social cohesion. To wear gold jewelry was a privilege reserved for the most illustrious chieftains and priests, who ostentatiously displayed them during their lives and hoarded quantities for their tombs. The Tairona goldsmiths are famous for their realistic representations of animals. Staff heads in particular are very representational, as we can see in this fantastic example. Crawling up the side of the lovely conical shape, a jaguar is about to do battle with a snake. However, the jaguar's tail is in fact the snake's body! The two figures are one, yet distinct. The jaguar is beautifully modeled with superb anatomical detail. Its paws seem to actually grip the sides with tension marked in the legs. The head is slightly tilted in order to engage the snake; its mouth wide open exposing fierce teeth, the eyes squinting in the clever shape of coffee beans. There is extraordinary expression in both feline and reptile. The snake too is ready for combat with its mouth curved in the way snakes have before full extension. It wears a collar with the same design as the bottom rim of the knob. The symbolic impression is of two powerful forces of nature combating each other. Yet, they are one in the same being comprised of positive and negative forces, good and evil held together in a single perfect whole. A master goldsmith has performed a dual function by creating a practical object used in ceremonies; as well as a beautiful work of art which reveals with extraordinary simplicity an aspect of an esoteric mythology. 184 grams - (FJ.6199)


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