Breastplate in the form of a jaguar - man

Mid-Magdalena Valley (Tolima) - Middle Period-1/700

Museo del Oro, Bogotá

Museo del Oro, Bogotá
Bogota, Colombia

This large chest plate was manufactured by a skilled goldsmith with the technique of lost wax casting in a tumbaga –gold and copper alloy– in reddish colour due to the high copper content. The design of the fretwork on the body and the headdress of the figure were finely cut out in the wax before the metal pouring took place.

The piece exhibits an imposing antropozoomorphic figure with the lower limbs extended sideways, in a schematic style; the symmetry emphasises the straight lines and balance of the proportions. It probably personifies a jaguar-man, as suggested by the fretworks on the body which seem to depict the spots on the skin, the prominent mouth showing his teeth and the spread out posture of the body as if lying on his abdomen. The face, looking human, presents two longitudinal bands of face paint crossing the eyes.

The cultural affiliation of this chest plate has always been problematic for the archaeologists because it combines elements of the Tolima style goldwork of the mid valley of the Magdalena and the Quimbaya one of the Early period in the Mid Cauca. The shape of the figure clearly belongs to the first style, while the manufacturing technique refers to the second one. The piece was found at the beginning of the XX century by treasure hunters in a tomb in an elite cemetery in the mountains of the Quindío, on the Colombian Central Mountain Range, in the Mid Cauca region. MAU


  • Title: Breastplate in the form of a jaguar - man
  • Creator: Mid-Magdalena Valley (Tolima) - Middle Period
  • Creator Lifespan: -1/700
  • Creator Nationality: Colombia
  • Creator Death Place: Colombia
  • Creator Birth Place: Colombia
  • Date: -1/700
  • Physical Dimensions: w257 x h234 mm
  • Type: Goldwork
  • External Link: Cosmology and Symbolism room
  • Technique: Lost wax casting in tumbaga
  • Finding: Colombia, Quindío, Calarcá
  • Accession number: O06029

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