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Artist/Maker: Tairona (Colombia)

Date: 500-1550
Medium: gold alloy
Overall: 7/8 × 7/8 × 1/8 in. (2.2 × 2.2 × 0.3 cm)
Classification: Clothing, Accessories and Jewelry
Credit Line: Gift of Sylvia Coppersmith in memory of Dora Coppersmith
Object number: 86.0085
DescriptionThe Tairona combined technical skill with mythology to produce finely detailed miniature objects which were traded to the Muiscas for emeralds. The favorite metal was a gold and copper alloy called tumbaga (20% copper and 80% gold) which is harder and more durable than its constituent parts making it easier to work by alternate hammering and annealing (Bray 1978:12). Forms unique to the Tairona included anchor-shaped finials or pendants, cylinder-shaped lip plugs, and jewelry components which combined human and birds characteristics. This piece appears to represent a celestial creature composed of serpent heads with bifurcated tongues.
Not on view