Anthropomorphous offering vessel

Eastern Cordillera - Muisca Period600/1600

Museo del Oro, Bogotá

Museo del Oro, Bogotá
Bogota, Colombia

This Muisca container for offerings, which was found between the villages of Chocontá and Guateque, is notable for the fact that it depicts a Muisca chieftain. A document from the Spanish colonial period which described proceedings against the chieftain of Ubaque in 1563 tells how a colonial official seized a container like this one from the Muisca indians, together with its contents consisting of gold and cotton objects and emeralds. It also mentioned that the figure on the object was the chieftain of Ubaque. These chieftains lived in cabins surrounded by circular fences or palisades which had poles, or "gavias", that protruded above the other stakes: human sacrifices are known to have been performed on some of these, when a young man was tied to the top and arrows were shot at him until he bled to death. The figure on this pottery object has two sticks in his hands, each of which has two triangles, as on the "tunjos" or small metal figures found in offering vessels associated with the "gavia" ceremony. A strip can also be seen on either side of the main figure, which could represent the fence and one of those "gavias". In addition to the palisade in Ubaque and the temples there where meetings were held, the Spanish document also describes the small shrines which, incidentally, were likewise surrounded by masts, where these offering containers were half-buried: the judicial officer went "to see the other hut at the shrine which was next to the chieftain's palisade, and I can vouch for the fact that the huts which they said were shrines were [also] fenced, and on top of the fence were fifty one "gavias" made of sticks, and inside this palisade were two small huts made to look like ships ... and there did not seem to be any indians in them or anything else, just straw and small sauceboats with perfumes". EL


  • Title: Anthropomorphous offering vessel
  • Creator: Eastern Cordillera - Muisca Period
  • Creator Lifespan: 600/1600
  • Creator Nationality: Colombia
  • Creator Death Place: Colombia
  • Creator Birth Place: Colombia
  • Date: 600/1600
  • Physical Dimensions: w100 x h497 mm
  • Type: Ceramic
  • External Link: People and Gold in Pre-Hispanic Colombia
  • Technique: Modeling in clay
  • Finding: Colombia, Cundinamarca, Chocontá
  • Accession number: C12900

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