Gold ornaments depicting animal-headed humans positioned between horizontal plaques have been found throughout Costa Rica and Panama. Although depictions featuring aspects of predatory animals, such as this figure with a crocodile mask, are common, the meaning of the figures and of the framing elements is not known. Perhaps the ability of such creatures to cause harm also engendered their capacity to inspire religious awe and respect. A minimally clothed, masked male figure stands with knees flexed, facing forward, arms replaced by large crescents, perhaps stylized wings. The crescent shape is reiterated at the sides of the head and by the flares at the ankles. The graphic quality of the repeated forms and the large flat shapes top and bottom anchor the figure. A single wide suspension loop is attached to the pendant at the back of the figure's neck.
[John Wise Ltd., New York, until 1955]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1955, on loan to the Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1958–1978
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Art of Oceania, Africa, and the Americas from the Museum of Primitive Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1969, no. 458.
Newton, Douglas. Masterpieces of Primitive Art: The Nelson A. Rockefeller Collection. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978, p. 194.
Newton, Douglas, Julie Jones, and Kate Ezra. The Pacific Islands, Africa, and the Americas/The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987.
Jones, Julie, and Heidi King. "Gold of the Americas." The Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art vol. 59, no. 4 (Spring 2002), p. 52.