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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Archive : Tairona Gold Pendant
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Tairona Gold Pendant - AM.0448
Origin: Columbia
Circa: 900 AD to 1200 AD
Dimensions: 2.36" (6.0cm) high x 1.0" (2.5cm) wide
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Gold


Additional Information: SOLD

Location: Great Britain
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Description
At the time of the Spanish Conquest of the Americas, in the Sierra Nevada mountain chain of northern Colombia, a lively metallurgical tradition among the Chibcha-speaking Tairona. The Tairona culture began their process of consolidation as a social and political entity in the first centuries after Christ, reaching their apex of development after 1000 A.D. when dense populations were grouped together in many urban centers. Today, over two hundred Tairona sites are known, ranging from the coastal lowlands to the heights of the mountains. Settlements of varying sizes reflect a hierarchical political order; several large centers controlled numerous smaller ones, through a chiefly and priestly elite. Tairona goldwork reveals a complex iconography often combining both animal and human features. The Kogi people of the Sierra Nevadas, modern descendents of the Tairona, do not value gold, or other metal and gems for that matter, as indicators of wealth and personal prestige. For them, gold is a symbol of potential fertility belonging to all members of their society. The sun, the penultimate procreating force, transmits its power to gold, presumably endowing the metal with its yellowish hue. We can presume that the Tairona originally viewed gold much the same way, as ornaments charged with potent symbolism relating to the continuation of life.

This gold pendant represents a human figure carrying two tubular objects that flare open towards the top like the pedals of a flower. A high, arching headdress crowns the figures head. His facial features are characteristic of the Tairona style, with relatively large, coffee bean- shaped eyes. The lower half of this sculpture terminates in an unarticulated base that flares outwards at the bottom. While there are loop rings attached to the back of this piece, suggesting it was strung upon a necklace and worn during long-forgotten rituals, the presence of the base suggest it would have also been displayed when not adorning a wearer. This sculpture continues to shine with the luminosity of the sun while providing us with an image of ancient Colombia before the Spanish Conquest. - (AM.0448)

 

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