Double Bat-Head Figure Pendant


Not on view

The twin figures on this gold pendant wear identical headdresses, loincloths, and wide collar necklaces. Each holds a spear thrower and a paddle-shaped club. They have coffee-bean eyes, wide-open mouths with sharp beastlike fangs, and noses that are upswept in a leaf shape similar to the noses of Central American bats. The nose leaf is a sensing device which locates the bat's prey by reflecting the sounds it emits. Ancient Americans must have revered bats for this seemingly supernatural ability to see in the dark.

In life and in death, gold adornment symbolized power and prestige in the tribal societies of Central America. Leaders wore cast or hammered gold images in the shape of naturalistic animals, composite beasts, and human-animal combinations. So important were these symbols of power and identity that leaders were buried surrounded by all their gold. Without written records, the meaning of these symbols cannot be precisely identified. Human/animal beings such as these twin figures could represent tribal culture heroes, mythical warriors, or markers of elite clan members.

Double Bat-Head Figure Pendant, Gold, Chiriqui

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.