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Ear Ornaments

Location

COLOMBIA, possibly SUCRE REGION

Era

Greater Zenú (200 B.C.E.-1550 C.E.)

Culture

Zenú

Title

Ear Ornaments

Date

1000-1550

Materials

Gold

Credits

Gift of John Wise, inv. 1948.Ad.1a-b

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

For centuries, the distribution of gold objects created by specialized artisans contributed to the cohesiveness of the Greater Zenú cultural area in the Caribbean lowlands of what is now Colombia. These ear ornaments are among the most typical forms they took. Although having the appearance of filigree, they were made in a single piece through lost-wax casting. They are similar to those found in funerary mounds – still built by contemporary Zenú – in the basins of the San Jorge and Cauca rivers. Such ornaments embodied the power of their owner and, in particular, of caciques (chiefs). They could even at times stand in for the body of a cacique in a tomb if he died in a faraway place.

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