Pre-Columbian, Central America, Panama, Veraguas culture, Period V to VI, ca. 700 to 1500 CE. A stunning double-headed eagle pendant, comprised of 90% gold (equivalent to 21K+ gold), with broad ovoid wings projecting from either side of the raised body. The massive forked tail dwarfs the size of the miniscule raptorial talons which comprise the suspension loop below, and a modern gold-filled chain link is threaded through the suspension loop. Each petite head is composed of a pair of encircled eyes, a slender neck, and a dramatically-curved aquiline beak. A breathtaking example of high-quality Panamanian gold-smithing! Size: 2.125" W x 1.6" H (5.4 cm x 4.1 cm); quality of gold: 90% (equivalent to 21K+); total weight: 16.3 grams.
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).
Provenance: ex-private New York, USA collection; ex-Tom Francis collection, Gainesville, Georgia, USA, acquired in the 1980s, acquired by children via descent, collection # AA181
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Slight bending to wings and tail fins, with a couple of small casting flaws, and a small perforation on the side of the body, otherwise intact and near-choice.