MUISCA – Colombia

1300 – 1500 A.D.

  • Height : 16.3 cm
  • Width : 6.9 cm
  • Depth : 1.1 cm
  • Weight : 55 g

Gold, technique of lost wax casting and filigree.

Anthropomorphic sculpture representing a standing naked shaman, richly adorned. The legs form the point of a triangle in which the stylized body takes shape. It is made up of a golden plate melted following the technique of lost-wax casting. On this plate, filigree does underline the corporal elements such as the legs, the sex and the arms. A belt fits tightly round his waist and keeps a little character with the arms folded back over its bust. The shaman, taking over this position, holds in his right hand a long scepter decorated in its upper part with two faced birds. His face is oval and the same filigree technique was used to draw the open mouth, the straight nose and the almond eyes. This shaman is dressed with rich finery made up of a spiral ornament and another tubular one on the body, a necklace with long pendants, circular earrings and above all a magnificent headdress. Shaped as a half-circle, it evokes the sun from where the rays spring up. They are linked together by a filigree braid which also sets off the outlines. Two big pendants with flaps are hanged up on each side of the headdress whereas two others, more sober, are placed on the top. Two rings indicate the presence of complementary elements now missing. This figure is particularly interesting because of the complexity of its set of jewels and its removable elements making the light shimmer. Moreover, the triangular composition gives this piece stability and monumentality.

These objects, named Tunjos, were votive offerings and are characterized by their great fineness of execution. They were mainly found in the plains, north-east from Bogota, in the Muisca region.