Costumed Figure Pendant

Date: 1st–7th century

Geography: Colombia

Culture: Tolima

Medium: Gold

Dimensions: H. 7 1/8 x W. 4 3/8 in. (18.1 x 11.1cm)

Classification: Metal-Ornaments

Credit Line: The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979

Accession Number: 1979.206.497


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.