Lime container in the shape of a fruit

Mid-Cauca (Quimbaya) - Early Period-500/700

Museo del Oro, Bogotá

Museo del Oro, Bogotá
Bogota, Colombia

With this container, one of the most representative and exceptional pieces of the Quimbaya goldwork style of the early period in the Mid Cauca region, the Banco de la República began its pre-Hispanic metalwork collection in 1939; and this is how the Gold Museum started. It was found inside a tomb, seemingly at the beginning of the XIX century, in the mountains of the North-eastern part of Antioquia on the Central mountain range, one of the richest areas in alluvial and vein gold deposits in the country.

Commonly known as poporos, these golden receptacles were used by upper rank people to store the lime used in the coca leaf chewing ritual. Picks, also made in metal, were used to remove the lime from the receptacle.

The piece is inspired in the shape of a gourd, the fruit of the Cucurbita lagenaria plant, and a melted filigree base with spiral designs was added to the piece, with a braid at the base of the neck and an ornament on the top with four spheres. Some groups of indigenous people today, like various pre-Hispanic people, use natural gourds as poporos and symbolically they associate these fruits to women, fertility and life.

The “Quimbaya poporo” was made of tumbaga –a gold and copper alloy– with a high content of gold and manufactured with great mastery by using the technique of lost wax casting with a clay and carbon inner core. A joining near the base reveals that it was cast in two successive sessions. It was subject to intense polishing to achieve its characteristic shine. MAU


  • Title: Lime container in the shape of a fruit
  • Creator: Mid-Cauca (Quimbaya) - Early Period
  • Creator Lifespan: -486/700
  • Creator Nationality: Colombia
  • Creator Death Place: Colombia
  • Creator Birth Place: Colombia
  • Date: -500/700
  • Physical Dimensions: w114 x h235 mm
  • Type: Goldwork
  • External Link: Cosmology and Symbolism room
  • Technique: Lost wax casting with core, in tumbaga
  • Finding: Colombia, Antioquia, Angostura
  • Accession number: O00015

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