Pre-Columbian, Central America, Panama, Veraguas culture, ca. 500 to 1100 CE. An exquisite eagle pendant, comprised of 80% gold (equivalent to 18K+ gold), with broad ovoid wings projecting from either side of the raised circular body. The massive triangular tail plume dwarfs the miniscule raptorial talons, and a trio of rings encircled the neck in front of an integral suspension loop on the verso. A pair of diminutive eyes flank the enlarged aquiline beak which holds a small knob-ended tube. A breathtaking example of high-quality Panamanian gold-smithing! Size: 2.3" W x 1.75" H (5.8 cm x 4.4 cm); quality of gold: 80% (equivalent to 18K+); total weight: 19.3 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).
For a stylistically-similar example with crescent-shaped wings, please see The Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession number 69.7.5: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/309535
Provenance: ex-private West Palm Beach, Florida, USA collection
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Slight bending to wings, minor abrasions along tail and verso, with a couple of minor casting flaws, otherwise intact and near-choice.