Diadem

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A smooth, rectangular-form diadem to cover the head. There are three holes at both ends so that a strip could be threaded through and tied to hold the piece in place on the head. There is little decoration over the surface except for a line of embossed dots along the longest sides and a geometric pattern marked out with dots at either end.

The Zenú culture spread from the 8th Century BC down the basins of the Sinú, San Jorge, Cauca and Nechí Rivers. At its height, its territory was divided in three provinces with complementary economic functions: the production of comestible root vegetables, the production of a range of manufactured goods and the mining of native gold. The chiefs, members of the same family line, controlled the massive distribution of the products.

A large population grew up along the courses of the rivers, based in separate houses or in villages built on artificial platforms. Towards the year 1000 AD the population declined notably. Some groups that survived along the Sinú River until the Conquest were able to tell the Europeans about the peak of the Zenú society. Great wooden idols plated in gold leaf and other objects of the same metal were held in their great temples and sanctuaries. These awoke the greed of the conquistadors and gave rise to the bloody sacking of their settlements.

Apart from being great goldsmiths, the Zenú were also good potters as can be seen from the level of development of their pottery techniques. The most common representations in their jewellery are of amphibious creatures, birds, aquatic creatures and felines, all of which were also frequently seen in the decoration of recipients, rollers seals and pottery body art paint rollers.

The working of metals appeared in Colombian regions towards the 6th Century BC when societies which had artisans skilled in working metals lived on the Pacific coast. During the two thousand years of development of metal working in Colombia, interrupted by the Spanish conquest in 1500 AD, a dozen different styles emerged, combining different techniques on diverse alloys and producing great quantities of exceptional quality. These were notable for their equilibrium and composition which give the Pre-Hispanic working of metals in Colombia an outstanding place in world art. The main themes seen are the human figure, animals, geometric forms and a combination of all of these.

BIBLIGRAPHY:

- AA.VV. “Oro de Colombia. Chamanismo y orfebrería”. Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino. Santiago de Chile. 2005.
- PÉREZ DE BARRADAS, José. “Orfebrería Prehispánica de Colombia. Estilos Quimbaya y Otros”. Banco de la República – Museo del Oro de Colombia. Madrid. 1966. (Plate 283).
PARALLELS:

- Museo del Oro de Colombia.

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