Breast-shaped breastplate

Caribbean Plains (Zenú) - Early Period-200/1000

Museo del Oro, Bogotá

Museo del Oro, Bogotá
Bogota, Colombia

This chest plate with the rounded shape of feminine breasts, hammered and embossed in high purity gold, was manufactured by a goldsmith in the mid course of the San Jorge River in the Caribbean plains. For sure this goldsmith was a master in his art: the lines delimiting the circumferences are perfectly finished, as well as the full outline. The central orifices allowing for the chest plate to hang from the neck of an important person were probably made with sharp pointed tools in wood or highly polished stone ensuring perfect circles and rounded edges.

These types of chest plates were buried with their owners under the roundness of the burial mounds of the Zenú. The gold ornaments represented the sacred power of the leaders and their capacity of summoning the community when directing ceremonies and rituals, as well as the work in the extensive plantation fields with drainage technology. The mammal shaped chest plates were not only used by the women holding important religious positions, but also by male chieftains, in their interest in promoting agriculture and human fertility. Maybe by using these ornaments they could magically obtain the symbolic and biologic virtues of women. JSS


  • Title: Breast-shaped breastplate
  • Creator: Caribbean Plains (Zenú) - Early Period
  • Creator Lifespan: -195/1000
  • Creator Nationality: Colombia
  • Creator Death Place: Colombia
  • Creator Birth Place: Colombia
  • Date: -200/1000
  • Physical Dimensions: w270 x h205 mm
  • Type: Goldwork
  • External Link: People and Gold in Pre-Hispanic Colombia
  • Technique: Hammered and embossed gold
  • Finding: Colombia, Antioquia, San Pedro de Urabá
  • Accession number: O31829

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