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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
  • Description

    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.

  • Provenance

    [John Wise Ltd., New York, until 1958]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1958, on loan to the Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1958–1978

  • See also
    Who
    What
    Where
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
312920

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