Pre-Columbian, Colombia, Sinu, ca. 800 to 1500 CE. Finely crafted from tumbaga (alloy of copper and gold), this crescent shaped earring (or possibly nose ring) was cast via the lost wax (cire perdue) process by the Sinu culture which inhabited the hills and valleys of the middle Cauca River during the centuries prior to Spanish conquest in the 1530's. Presenting an intricate composition of three filigreed (displaying a delicate lacelike openwork continuous decorative motif) registers separated by striated bands, the piece is further adorned by two pairs of twin stylized, long-beaked birds, one at each end. On top, the ring clasp is thick and substantial. Size: 4.125" W x 2.125" H (10.5 cm x 5.4 cm); 2.75" H (7 cm) on included custom stand.
Similar examples have been written about by Heidi King of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in "The Art of Precolumbian Gold." King writes, "Ear ornaments are ubiquitous in the personal jewelry of ancient America. South American peoples were especially fond of their use, and, for millennia, they made the ornaments in an enormous variety of pattern, size, and material. Many of the shapes and sizes of these ornaments are so extraordinary that to people of twentieth-century sensibility they seem unwearable. That is not the case . . . The delicate wire work of which they are composed gives the ornaments a light and graceful aspect of great appeal. Indeed they were much admired in ancient times too, for this type of ornament was made in some quantity." (The Art of Precolumbian Gold: The Jan Mitchell Collection" edited by Julie Jones. Boston: Little Brown & Company, 1985, p. 164)
Provenance: private Southern California, USA collection, acquired in the 1970s to mid-1980s
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Expected wear commensurate with age. Clasp is rigid; however, a reputable jeweler might be able to fit the earring/nose ring with a modern catch in order to be wearable. Tumbaga has developed a lovely warm patina.