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Muisca tunjo

Muisca tunjo (offering)
AD 1000–1500
Bogotá, Columbia
Gold alloy
12 x 5 cm
Presented by Mrs. Thea Heye

Prior to the arrival of the conquistadores in AD 1500, and starting as early as 500 BC, metallurgy flourished more in what is now Colombia than in almost any other place in the world. While the lost-wax process—melting a wax model encased in clay and then pouring in hot metal—was the favored technique to work gold into hollow or solid objects, other complex techniques were also employed. Among the Muisca, gold figurines, dating from AD 1000 to 1500, were made in male and female pairs as votive pieces to be used as offerings in temples, caves, and other sacred places. This figurine shows a man wearing elaborate authority symbols: a large crown, two large hanging ear ornaments, and several pendants.

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