Pre-Columbian, Colombia, Sinu Valley, Sinu culture, ca. 1000 to 1500 CE. An interesting finial formed from tumbaga which contains 71% copper, 25% gold, and 3% silver. Atop the socketing shaft is a highly stylized anthropomorphic figure that sits in a four-legged chair and holds a petite olla in one hand while grasping the legs of a plump avian creature in the other hand. A braided cord adorns the waistline while a layered pectoral collar festoons the neck. The narrow visage is flanked with two pairs of braided ear ornaments, and two lengthy projections sweep back behind the head. An openwork rectangular plinth has zigzagging bars on either side of the open bottom and in front of a braided socketing rim. Size: 2.6" L x 1.4" W x 3" H (6.6 cm x 3.6 cm x 7.6 cm); quality of tumbaga: 71% copper, 25% gold, 3% silver; total weight: 55 grams
An item like this one would have perhaps been used for ritual ceremonies in which shamans and possibly rulers consumed powerful hallucinogens to induce a religious transformation into animals or magical beasts. Birds were a popular theme in ancient Mesoamerican art as they were thought to be messengers of the gods who were able to traverse through all realms of existence as well as the afterlife. An object like this example aided in the months to years long process through which a shaman completed the animalistic transformation. To learn more about objects like this one, please see the British Museum catalog/exhibit entitled "Beyond El Dorado: Power and Gold in Ancient Colombia."
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection, acquired October 6, 2019 at auction at Showplace; ex-private New York, New York, USA collection; ex-private Park Avenue collection, New York, New York, USA
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Small losses to areas of headdress. Abrasions and several perforations to figure and socketing base, with slight bending and a few stable hairline fissures to headdress elements, arms, and base, and light encrustations. Light earthen deposits and nice patina throughout.