A Chiriquí Gold Double-Headed Turtle Pendant, Costa Rica, ca. 800 - 1500 CE


$750 USD


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Finely detailed, in the form of a double-headed turtle, with two limbs on either side of the round shell, a tail sticking out behind, the shell incised with four swirls and lines through the center, a loop attached to the back for suspension.

Costa Rica is the most northerly of the Pre-Columbian goldworking areas, which run from southern Peru and Bolivia on the west side of South America, along the Andean Mountain chain to Ecuador and Colombia, and from there across onto the Isthmus of Panama. This generally continuous region, in which ancient American goldworking technologies developed, intermingled, and expanded, ends approximately in southern Costa Rica. Costa Rican metalwork is thus consistent with southern technologies and imagery, although it has its own distinct, and quite strong, visual character. Depictions of predatory animals are common; crocodiles, felines, bats, sharks, and spiders appear in various guises, many anthropomorphized, and many with bared teeth showing. It is believed that the ability of such creatures to cause harm also engendered their capacity to inspire religious awe and respect. The major mountain ranges account for the creation of three cultural zones in ancient Costa Rica, where diverse ethnic groups developed distinct artistic traditions. The south-eastern zone of Pacific Costa Rica, near the Panamanian border, was the most important region for goldworking. It has yielded more gold objects than any other Costa Rican area. Early European accounts report that the tropical rainforest region of the Diquis Delta, where rivers come from the Cordillera de Talamanca, was particularly rich in gold. Each community owned a stretch of river where people panned for gold.

Dimensions: Length: 18 mm (0.7 inches)

Condition: Intact and in excellent condition overall.

Provenance: Private New York collection, acquired in the early 1990's.