Moar gold!

November 20, 2010 • 6:41 am

Cartagena has its own gold museum—smaller than that of Bogotá, to be sure, but with equally exquisite objects. Most of them come from the Zenu culture of the Caribbean plains beginning about 800-500 A.D. Many of these are made by the lost wax process, which is a giant pain.  I’ll show you some of the nicest things, concentrating (as usual) on the fauna. As always, click on the photos to enlarge them.

First, some birds:

An owl:

A jaguar:

Unknown animal (again, your guess is as good as mine):

Another unknown animal, perhaps a jaguar:

Two unknown animals; the one on the left may be another jaguar:

Assorted animals:

A face:

Two figures with filigree:

And, finally, two lost-wax figures:

10 thoughts on “Moar gold!

  1. The green background is excellent. It relieves the monotone nature of the previous set of photos, and green and gold go well together.

  2. Moar kittehs, too. This stuff is beautiful regardless of the medium. I can easily see it carved in wood or stone. And I second Reginald’s remark regarding the background; wonderful contrast. Much better than the larger museum.

    When are you coming home? It’s supposed to snow Wednesday, so you’re in for a shock.

  3. The first of the figures with filigree looks like it was made in pieces and assembled. Any suggestion of that at the museum?

  4. The third gold bird reminds me of the head of frigate bird. The hook-tipped beak in particular.

    I assume all this gold artistry is evidence of a highly stratified society and that these are remnant luxuries of the very rich. Still, beautiful objects that form a small window on another time.

    1. Maybe not? I think I remember from reading about the European invasions that the invaders saw gold as hugely valuable while the people they were invading didn’t. It was an art tool, a pretty thing, but not economically valuable. The Europeans saw it as essentially money, while the non-Europeans saw it as essentially beautiful. The Europeans would have melted down all these trinkets to turn them into Money – and in fact they did do that with anything they were given and then with anything they took.

  5. The countenance on that first jaguar (rough night out with the boys?) shows something either humorous or quite twisted about the artist. 🙂 At any rate, it really makes one think of the person behind the art…reaching across all these centuries…

    1. Yes, I suppose that seeing the world through the eyes of another, long dead, is one of the attractions of objects such as these.

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