Nose Ornament

Date: 1st–7th century

Geography: Colombia

Culture: Calima (Yotoco)

Medium: Gold

Dimensions: H. 5 5/16 in. (13.5 cm)

Classification: Metal-Ornaments

Credit Line: Gift and Bequest of Alice K. Bache, 1966, 1977

Accession Number: 66.196.23


Nose ornaments are among the earliest personal adornments used throughout the Andes in Precolumbian times. They were made in a variety of materials, ranging from modest wood, bone, and shell to precious ones like gold, silver, and even platinum. Those in gold are known in countless, often imaginative, shapes and sizes, from small simple rings to elaborate multipiece constructions. Among the largest and most dazzling are those made in the Cauca Valley by the Yotoco people. This example is large enough to have covered the lower face when inserted into the wearer's nose. With its numerous free-hanging round and rectangular dangles, it would have produced a striking visual and audible effect. The bold, clean outlines of the crescent with its flat surface contrasts with the ornateness of the many small circular and rectangular shapes and rounded surfaces of the dangles.