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Anthropomorphous breastplate with danglers

Eastern Cordillera - Muisca Period600/1600

Museo del Oro, Bogotá

Museo del Oro, Bogotá
Bogota, Colombia

This Muisca breastplate illustrates a common –and extraordinary– motif which used to adorn the chests of numerous Muisca chieftains in the central part of the territory now known as Colombia. A man with legs apart and arms raised is wearing an enormous radial headdress. The hanging plates create countless reflections of light, which clearly represent the sun's rays. This is the Sun, the star that gives us life every day, in human form. It crosses the firmament each day: the position of the body indicates his flight, as do the birds either side of the waist, with plates that indicate the movement of the shining feathers. With a breastplate like this, Muisca farmers would never have doubted the life-giving power of their chieftain. These laminar Muisca artefacts were not hammered, but cast: the principal plate and all the details were made out of and decorated in beeswax, and on seeing them close up, it is both easy and exciting to imagine the artisan's work. The sun-man's face was made with a stamp carved in soft stone, a technique that was developed by the metalsmiths from this region. EL

Details

  • Title: Anthropomorphous breastplate with danglers
  • Creator: Eastern Cordillera - Muisca Period
  • Date: 600/1600
  • Physical Dimensions: w115 x h155 mm
  • Type: Goldwork
  • External Link: People and Gold in Pre-Hispanic Colombia
  • Technique: Lost wax casting in gold
  • Finding: Colombia, Cundinamarca. El Peñón
  • Accession number: O07550

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