Bird Pendant

10th–16th century
Colombia, Guatavita Lake region
Gold (cast)
H. 2 3/8 in. (6 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Gifts in memory of Alice K. Bache, and Rogers Fund, 1992
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 357
This pendant is an elegant example of the command of the goldsmith's art that existed for so many centuries in ancient Colombia. The Precolumbian peoples of the gold-rich regions of northern South America worked gold extensively, developing ever more complicated techniques of manufacture. Astonishing variety was achieved through the manipulation of color and size and by making objects with multiple parts—dangles were favored additions. In finished form, the color could range from pink to bright yellow, and there are small works such as this pendant with filigreelike detail as well as those with broad, plain surfaces. Bird imagery is frequently found on the pendants made to be worn as independent objects about the neck. A tiny, meticulously detailed one appears at the top of this example.
[Shapland Antiques, London, until the 1930s]; Private collection, Europe, 1930s–1992; (Sotheby's, New York, May 19, 1992, no. 66)

Jones, Julie, and Heidi King. "Gold of the Americas." The Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art vol. 59, no. 4 (Spring 2002), p. 25.

Pillsbury, Joanne, Timothy Potts, and Kim N. Richter, eds. Golden Kingdoms: Luxury Arts in the Ancient Americas. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2017.