Record

Pendant in the shape of a bird of prey, from a high-status grave

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in Costa Rica

Postcard of Pendant in the shape of a bird of prey, from a high-status grave.
000-180-000-786-C
© National Museums Scotland

Pendant in the shape of a bird of prey, from a high-status grave

This large gold bird-shaped pendant would have formed part of the grave goods in a chief's grave in Costa Rica. The bird of prey - an eagle or king vulture - was of symbolic significance, but we no longer know its exact meaning.

The pendant is made of cast gold, and depicts a bird of prey as if it is standing on a branch with its wings outstretched to dry. There is a loop on the back for suspending the pendant.

Gold was one of the precious materials used to make symbols of power in central and southern America before the Spanish conquest in the 1500s. Gold workers in Costa Rica were particularly skilled. Gold was of great symbolic significance as well as value.


Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-000-786-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0504: National Museums Scotland Part 2
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  A.1914.228
Date: Around 700 to 1550
Material:
Dimensions: 3.00" L x 3.63" W
What: Gold ornament
Subject: Miscellaneous
Who:
Where: Central America, Costa Rica
Event:
Description: Gold ornament in the form of a conventionalised winged bird, with a loop at the back for suspension: South America, from Costa Rica, Pre-Columbian
References:
  • Abel-Vidor, S et al. Between Continents/Between Seas: Precolombian Art of Costa Rica, 1981. 
  • Sheridan, J A (ed). Heaven and Hell and Other Worlds of the Dead. Edinburgh: National Museum of Scotland, 2000. 
Translations:
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