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.
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Title:Costumed figure pendant
Dimensions:H. 7 × W. 4 3/8 × D. 3/8 in. (17.8 × 11.1 × 1 cm)
Credit Line:The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
[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
Museum of Primitive Art. "The World of Primitive Art," July 12, 1966–September 11, 1966.
New Orleans Museum of Art. "Art of Ancient and Modern Latin America," May 10, 1968–June 16, 1968.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art of Oceania, Africa and the Americas from The Museum of Primitive Art," May 10–August 17, 1969.
Seattle Art Museum. "Primitive Art/Masterworks," January 5, 1975–February 16, 1975.
American Federation of Arts. "Primitive Art/Masterworks," January 5, 1975–May 15, 1977.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "Primitive Art/Masterworks," March 23, 1975–May 4, 1975.
Dallas Museum of Art. "Primitive Art/Masterworks," June 8, 1975–July 20, 1975.
Art Institute of Chicago. "Primitive Art/Masterworks," August 25, 1975–October 10, 1975.
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. "Primitive Art/Masterworks," November 9, 1975–December 21, 1975.
Toledo Museum of Art. "Primitive Art/Masterworks," April 11, 1976–May 25, 1976.
Walker Art Center. "Primitive Art/Masterworks," June 27, 1976–August 8, 1976.
State Hermitage Museum. "The Gold of Ancient America," August 4, 1976–October 1, 1976.
Denver Art Museum. "Primitive Art/Masterworks," September 10, 1976–November 7, 1976.
State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. "The Gold of Ancient America," October 15, 1976–December 15, 1976.
National Historical Museum of Ukraine. "The Gold of Ancient America," January 5, 1977–March 1, 1977.
de Young Museum, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. "Primitive Art/Masterworks," March 12, 1977–May 15, 1977.
Bennett, Wendell C. Ancient Arts of the Andes: Museum of Modern Art, New York, in collaboration with the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco [and] the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. New York: Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1954.
Museum of Primitive Art. Masterpieces in the Museum of Primitive Art: Africa, Oceania, North America, Mexico, Central to South America, Peru. Handbook series. New York, NY: Museum of Primitive Art, 1965, no. 78.
The Art of Ancient and Modern Latin America: Selections from Public and Private Collections in the United States. New Orleans: Isaac Delgado Museum of Art, 1968, no. 189.
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. 463.
American Federation of Arts. Primitive Art Masterworks: an exhibition jointly organized by the Museum of Primitive Art and the American Federation of Arts, New York. New York: American Federation of Arts, 1974, no. 27.
Newton, Douglas. Masterpieces of Primitive Art: The Nelson A. Rockefeller Collection. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978.
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. 28.
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