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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Archive : Pre-Columbian Art / Tumbaga Sculpture of a Jaguar
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Pre-Columbian Art / Tumbaga Sculpture of a Jaguar - PF.5878
Origin: Colombia
Circa: 900 AD to 1500 AD
Dimensions: 3" (7.6cm) depth
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Tumbaga


Additional Information: SOLD

Location: United States
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Description
This spectacular piece, cast in a gold and copper alloy called tumbaga, represents a stylized jaguar subduing a serpent. The snake’s head pops out from the side of the jaguar’s mouth, caught in the mighty grip of the feline’s fang filled jaw. But this struggle is far from over; after all, the serpent has managed to wrap itself around the jaguar’s neck. Thus both creatures are at the mercy of one another. Felines and serpents are among the most potent symbols of Pre-Columbian mythology. Jaguars have long been associated with the ruling elite, as is also true for lions, due to their fierce dominance of the jungle environment. Serpents as well are associated with rulership. Perhaps sculpture is an allegory of political struggle. Both sides are entangled in a fight for control, both are vulnerable, and neither is dominant. Although the meaning of this piece is speculative, its stunning beauty and artistry is unquestionable. Tight coils of tumbaga have been melded to the snake’s body, imitating the pattern of its skin. In addition, the same coils cover a rectangular opening on the jaguars back. The tips of the jaguar’s lips and ears, as well as the cuffs of his paws, are highlighted by a tightly wound spiraling chord. The detail and execution of this work is astounding in itself. Perhaps more astounding though, is the works overall charm. Despite the grim nature of this life and death struggle, there is a lighthearted quality this piece exudes, seen in the eyes of the snake and the jaguar. - (PF.5878)

 

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