Double Crocodile Pendant

Date: 8th–10th century

Geography: Panama

Culture: Macaracas

Medium: Gold, quartz

Dimensions: H. 1 1/2 x W. 1 1/2 x D. 1 1/8 in. (3.8 x 3.8 x 2.8 cm)

Classification: Metal-Ornaments

Credit Line: The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979

Accession Number: 1979.206.733


Depicted on this pendant are two side-by-side composite creatures in which the long, toothy snouts with extended, bifurcated tongues of crocodiles are combined with the curled-up noses of bats and flowing crests of iguanas. The accumulation of such specific animal features—though little understood today—may have referred to the wearer's status and his ability to control natural and/or supernatural forces. The pairing of figures is found on some of the earliest known Central American gold objects and continued until the time of the conquest. Its purpose may have been to increase the potency of the image. This cast gold pendant incorporates two stones of translucent pink quartz that depict the tails of the beasts and contribute to the visual appeal of the piece through the juxtaposition of different colors and textures.