The Tolima peoples of Colombia's Magdalena Valley produced a distinctive type of gold object that had a high degree of consistency over a considerable period of time. The objects, figure pendants with zoomorphic and anthropomorphic references, were worn about the neck suspended from cords or thongs; they are almost flat, with sharp, symmetrical outlines. Their standard, identifiable forms verge on abstraction, but facial features such as the long, slender noses, beady eyes, and toothy mouths are depicted more realistically. Two basic configurations are known; the present example is of the "winged" body type. It has the squarish face with big, loopy ears, inverted L-shaped ornaments on top of the head, perhaps representing plumes, and the large bifurcated tail common on both types. Its midsection, however, below the splayed, fringed "arms," features elaborate openwork, perhaps depicting feathers or even a feathered costume. It has been suggested that the animal references of Tolima spread "wing" pendants—perhaps to bats, birds, and serpents—relate the figures to shamanism.
[John Wise Ltd., New York, until 1957]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1957, on loan to the Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1957–1978
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