Bird Pendant

Date: 10th–16th century

Geography: Colombia, Guatavita Lake region

Culture: Muisca

Medium: Gold (cast)

Dimensions: H. 2 3/8 in. (6 cm)

Classification: Metal-Ornaments

Credit Line: Purchase, Gifts in memory of Alice K. Bache, and Rogers Fund, 1992

Accession Number: 1992.121


This pendant is an elegant example of the command of the goldsmith's art that existed for so many centuries in ancient Colombia. The Precolumbian peoples of the gold-rich regions of northern South America worked gold extensively, developing ever more complicated techniques of manufacture. Astonishing variety was achieved through the manipulation of color and size and by making objects with multiple parts—dangles were favored additions. In finished form, the color could range from pink to bright yellow, and there are small works such as this pendant with filigreelike detail as well as those with broad, plain surfaces. Bird imagery is frequently found on the pendants made to be worn as independent objects about the neck. A tiny, meticulously detailed one appears at the top of this example.