Anthropomorphic breast plate

An anthropo - zoomorphic breast plate which combines a more figurative style for the head of the piece with a more geometric style for the rest of the body. The head is represented by a face, with a headdress and earmuffs. The body is simplified with schematized geometric lines. What particularly stands out in this piece is the representation of a raised tail of a jaguar seen on both sides of the lower section of the body.

In the Pre-Hispanic working of precious metals figures which combine human and animal features are frequently found. There are man-jaguar figures, men with monkey tails, man-fish, and above all, man-bird figures in which the human legs are turned into tails and the arms into wings. These figures may represent the different transformations of shamans, those with supernatural powers to explain and organize the cosmos.

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.

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