Pre-Columbian, Central America, Panama, Veraguas, ca. 1st to 5th century CE. Not one, but two conjoined birds grace this sizeable gold avian pendant! The gold quality is 52% to 65% (equivalent to ~ 14K+) on the front and 78% to 82% (equivalent to ~ 18K+) on the back. The eagles are nearly identical - with large heads presenting prominent curved beaks, rounded trapezoidal bodies outlined with triple linear borders, and grand triangular tail plumes. A masterful example of ancient Central American goldwork, quite rare for its double avian form! Gold quality: front: 52% - 65% (equivalent to ~ 14K+) back: 78% - 82% (equivalent to ~ 18K+). Size: 5" W x 4.625" H (12.7 cm x 11.7 cm); 6" H (15.2 cm) on included custom stand. Weight: 166 grams.
Central American avian pendants are perhaps the best known Precolumbian gold objects. Created to be suspended around the neck, they were made in various sizes, ranging from less than an inch in height to more than five inches. Single bird pendants are most common; double bird pendants like this one are more rare. Considered to be stylized representations of birds of prey with prominent beaks, scholars suggest that these pendants served as protective emblems.
According to "The Art of Pre-Columbian Gold: the Jan Mitchell Collection" catalogue, "Isthmian bird-form pendants were first called 'eagles,' aguilas, when Christopher Columbus sailed along Caribbean Central America in the early 1500s. Columbus and his men saw the bird pendants being worn about the neck by the peoples of the coast, in the manner of 'an Agnus Dei or other relic' (Colon, 1959). They named the pendants aguilas, a name they have kept to this day. In the present century, the generalized avian form of the pendants has given rise to much discussion over which type of bird is represented (see Cooke & Bray, this catalogue). Some authorities believe that the pendants depict birds of prey, thereby endorsing the Spanish name. The prominence of beaks and claws, and the various items held in their beaks, support such a view. . . Veraguas eagles are sharp-edged and clean of outline, particularly when compared to those of Chiriqui style with their rounded contours. Wings and tail are worked more laterally . . . Veraguas eagles are also often more elaborated around the head and hold fewer things in their beaks." (Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1985, p. 112).
Follow this link to see a similar example that was once in the Nelson A. Rockefeller collection and on loan to the former Museum of Primitive Art in New York from 1957 to 1978 - https://www.alamy.com/stock-image-double-eagle-pendant-date-1st-5th-century-geography-panama-culture-168264019.html
The clay in the recesses of this piece has been tested using thermoluminescence (TL) analysis and has been found to be ancient and of the period stated. A full report will accompany purchase.
Provenance: ex-Freye Family collection, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA, acquired at Parke Bernet, New York, New York, USA, acquired in the 1960s
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A few minor casting flaws, nicks, and scuffs as shown. Clay in the recesses on versos of heads with one small hole drilled for TL testing in each. Otherwise very nice to say the least!