This pendant representing a water animal with a human face expresses the lake and river environment in the Caribbean Plains of the Sierra de San Jacinto, in the North of Colombia. During the later period, after 1000 A.D., the populations in the plains and the mountains, somehow related to the former Zenú, manifested their cultural differences with the Zenú, among other things, through the metallurgic technology: the metalsmiths of the late period used tumbaga alloys –highly rich in copper– and they took great care in gilding the surfaces by surface depletion.
These populations lived near lakes, rivers and creeks and they took advantage of the yearly floods for agriculture, hunting, fishing and transportation. Their amphibious form of life is evidenced in this pendant shaped in a sort of crustacean, similar to a lobster, with eight swimming fins or swimmerets. The tail of this piece is fragmented, and in others it is shaped like a fan. Generally and just like the amphibians, this piece is perfectly symmetric. It is topped with a human face with a neutral expression and a headdress with feathers simulating a bifurcation, and it is held in place by a woven band around the head. Suspended around the neck of a person, perhaps this type of image could have represented a mythological creature related to the environment, history and religious beliefs of the people in the Caribbean Plains. JSS