Rare Veraguas Gold Effigy Pendant,
ca. A.D. 1000 - 1400
3 3/4 by 2 3/16in (9.4 by 5.6cm)
weight 6.86 ounces
cast in the form of a monster animal with saurian heads at each end, facing one direction in a J form, the top head with an open mouth revealing triangular-shaped teeth and six sets of double curls in two rows at the top of the head with cone shaped protruding ears, the lower head with three sets of double curls on its head, cone shaped ears and teeth indicated in its closed mouth, four feet extended at the sides and four cast danglers approximately one inch square from raised side support.
A handwritten report by Robert Sonin, dated 30 October 1984, accompanies the work.
Herbert Lucas, California, prior to 1970
Private Collection, Pennsylvania
The Lands Beyond Gallery, New York
Private Collection, New York
According to Emmerich (1965: p 102), the gold of "Veraguas-Chiriqui-Diquis region...consists almost entirely of three kinds of ornaments: hammered gold breastplates, cast bells, and realistically molded cast effigy figurines designed to be worn as pectorals. But it is almost as if these goldsmiths wanted to make up for the limited scope of their work by producing an exceptionally wide range and variety of pendants. These often reveal a dramatic realism and vitality unique in pre-Columbian gold objects. There is a parallel in some ways between the genre art of the potters of the Late Preclassic village cultures of Colima and Nayarit in western Mexico and that of these goldsmiths. Both were apparently able to work and create with relatively great freedom, without the imposition of the overwhelming, all-pervading burden of a rigidly prescribed iconography that in so many other ancient Indian cultures forced creative efforts into very narrow channels. As a result the art of both groups is singularly varied and expressive and often distinguished by an immediacy rare in the art of the more highly organized cultures."