Double-Headed Eagle Bell


Not on view

Avian pendants cast in gold, called águilas (eagles) by the invading Spanish, were symbols of mythological power in the region now known as Veraguas, Panama. Leaders in the Caribbean region widely exchanged such pendants and wore them to emulate the natural prowess of birds of prey. The supernatural birds have fanciful, hybrid features— such as neck ornaments, elaborate crests, and other protuberances—that complicate the identification of a recognizable species. The sound effects made by the pendants were important: some birds have bells for eyes, while others have bell chambers for bodies. In ceremonies the audience could have heard a ruler before they saw him or her.

Double-Headed Eagle Bell, Gold (cast), Veraguas

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