Pendant in the shape of a fish

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

Museo del Oro, Bogotá

Museo del Oro, Bogotá
Bogota, Colombia

The most diverse landscapes cut through by rivers and swamps converge in the Colombian Caribbean area, the habitat of multiple and varied species. The Zenú people, since 200 B.C. until approximately 1000 A.C., left evidence of the richness, variety and excitement generated by the animals in their surroundings, by representing them in metal, clay, bone, stone and shell. For these societies fauna played an extremely important role in their diet and economy and the different water, land or air specimens were also religious and political symbols. A feature of the representations of animals made by the Zenú was the naturalism and detail in representing the animals in their environment.

In this pendant manufactured by lost wax casting in tumbaga, the goldsmith took special care to detail the whiskers, fins and skin of the yellow coroncoro (Hemiancistrus wilsoni) to such an extent that it seems like the fish were ready to swim away. To enhance the realism of the representation of the skin, the artisan polished the high relief and left the grooves untouched so the contrast would produce the effect of the shiny and flexible skin of these fish, with large plates. The large triangular shaped head contrasts with the thin body of this cat fish with large round eyes moving in the dark in the bottom of the water bodies, exploring them with its whiskers and sucking with its round mouth located, like in this piece made of gold, under the body. JSS


  • Title: Pendant in the shape of a fish
  • Creator: Caribbean Plains (Zenú) - Early Period
  • Date: -200/1000
  • Physical Dimensions: w192 x h65 mm
  • Type: Goldwork
  • External Link: Cosmology and Symbolism room
  • Technique: Lost wax casting in tumbaga
  • Finding: Colombia, Sucre, San Marcos
  • Accession number: O33624

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