This piece manufactured with the sobriety and elegance characterising the goldwork of the early period in the Mid Cauca probably served a highly prestigious and powerful leader to store dry leaves of the sacred coca plant. It imitates the slender shape of the fruit of the totumo, the Crescentia cujete tree, used throughout most of the tropical American continent to manufacture containers and other objects for household or ritual uses. The natural shape of the fruit was flattened by the goldsmith, maybe to facilitate the owner carry the object, one of the most voluminous objects of Colombian metalwork.
In a fine pendant made of gold and found in another tomb of the period, a feminine figure is carrying one of these objects suspended from a string on her back. There are indeed two holes for the cord on either side of this piece, formed by a body and a perfectly well fitting lid. This detail and others evidence the mastery of the goldsmith in using the lost wax casting technique. MAU