Nov 4, 2011
Nov 4, 2011

Animal-Headed Figure Pendant

Animal-Headed Figure Pendant

c. 1000-1550

Cast gold

Overall: 10.5 x 9.8 x 2 cm (4 1/8 x 3 7/8 x 13/16 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1998.1

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The figure wears an elaborate headdress that is flanked by fierce-looking crocodilians in profile.


The culture area that extends from southern Central America to northern South America is generally referred to as the Intermediate Region because of its location between the two high culture zones of Mesoamerica and the central Andes. Research to date indicates that the pre-Columbian peoples of the Intermediate Region were organized into small, competitive chiefdoms, rather than large-scale states or empires. Despite political competition and warfare, trade in prestige goods such as jade and gold was common. Gold, obtained through panning and mining, was worked by hammering and lost-wax casting to produce intricate and showy personal ornaments.

The pendant represents a supernatural being, perhaps a fantastic crocodilian. It has projecting, tubelike eyes, a snout full of sharp teeth, and snake-headed streamers emanating from the nostrils. The simplified lower body consists of broad, flat legs, with large, curved talons at the ends of the feet. The elaborate headdress includes two central semidomes, flanked by fierce-looking profile crocodilians.


The Lost-Wax Casting Process
See also
Art of the Americas
Type of artwork: 
Cast gold

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