The bird-form pendants of Central America are perhaps the best known type of Precolumbian gold object. Made to be worn suspended around the neck, they were fabricated in many sizes, from those that are less than an inch in height to others of more than five inches. While the pendants differ in specific details, the basic configuration is usually the same. They have extended wings over open, splayed tails and heads and beaks that project strongly forward. Single birds are the most common, although double images, like this one, also occur. These pendants are considered to be stylized representations of birds of prey often holding small objects in their prominent beaks. The pendants may have functioned as protective emblems.
[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
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, no.100, p. 135.
Jones, Julie, and Heidi King. "Gold of the Americas." The Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art vol. 59, no. 4 (Spring 2002), p. 38.
Artist: Reinhold Vasters (German, Erkelenz 1827–1909 Aachen) Date: ca. 1870–95Medium: Baroque pearl mounted with enameled gold set with pearls, emeralds and rubies and with pendent pearlsAccession: 1982.60.382On view in:Gallery 542