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HOME : Pre-Columbian Art : Pre-Columbian Masterpieces : Gold Pendant of Two Shamans Wearing Saurian Masks
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Gold Pendant of Two Shamans Wearing Saurian Masks - FJ.6274
Origin: Costa Rican/Panamanian Border Area
Circa: 500 AD to 1550 AD
Dimensions: 2.5" (6.4cm) high x 3.75" (9.5cm) wide
Collection: Pre-Columbian
Medium: Gold

Additional Information: 98 Grams/heather/f

Location: Great Britain
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In the vast field of Costa Rican iconography, it is the gold jewelry which offers more detailed examples of shamanic ritual posture and paraphernalia than in any other medium. Advanced skills in metallurgy and the malleability of gold itself allowed for more intricate elaboration than in stone or terracotta. It is thus possible to witness shamans performing in ritual costume as if we are seeing a scene on a mural painting. This remarkable pendant is just such a case in point. The two male figures are bound by two heavy cords; one at shoulder level, the other over the lower abdomen. The upper cord has triple strands which the figures grip onto very tightly. They are identical, each wearing a crocodile mask joined at the side by a lovely ornamental band. Their triangular head ornaments are nicely balanced by the twin blades and trapezoidal feet. These blades are ceremonial axes, used as symbols of authority. The men are naked and their genitals are cleverly depicted as snake heads, a symbol of sexuality and fertility. Extremely pointed ears attached to the masks add the final dramatic touch. What we are seeing here are two shamans involved in an important ritual, perhaps related to a fertility cult. The fact that the pair are nearly identical, (with exception of the nose pieces), suggests they may represent only one person seen in the dual nature of positive and negative, good and evil foeces. The pendant is so beautifully balanced it too indicates the shamatic principle of union of opposites, where contrary forces come together in a harmonious whole. What has certainly come together is the artistry of a master goldsmith in creating a work of art of timeless beauty. - (FJ.6274)


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