Pendant in the form of a ray

A faithful representation of a ray in the form of a gold pendant. On the point of the nose we can see a depiction, more imaginary than real, of the receptors or sensors that this type of ray possesses to detect their prey on the bottom of lakes or seas by emitting electric impulses. These are placed symmetrically with three threads of gold turning to each side and a double spiral made from one thread of gold in the center. The eyes are situated on the central axis of the body a short distance from the top of the head. The tail is bent slightly to one side giving the piece a sense of movement.

Coclé society was made up of farmers who supplemented their diet with what was available in their environment, both on land and from the sea. They also engaged in bartering which enabled them to have access to other outside raw material such as copper and emeralds which came from Colombia.

This culture emerged in what is now the Panamanian province of Coclé, near the Santa Marta River. The region is warm and humid, with clearly defined seasons. Its landscape includes valleys suitable for agriculture as well as rivers, and woodlands. It is populated by a wide variety of fauna including deer, jaguars, peccaries, coatis, armadillos, and reptiles such as snakes and tortoises, particularly near the coast.

The gold was found as small nuggets in rivers or superficial excavation on the savannah or in the mountains. Alloys or gold and copper (tumbaga) were made, and on occasions some silver was also added. Sometimes pieces were also bathed in gold so that they would appear more golden in color. Metals were worked by cold hammering to generally make breast plates and helmets with distinct decorations. Three-dimensional figures were made using the lost wax technique. Gold leaf was also used to cover pieces made from bone or wood.


- Pendant in the form of a ray. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA. n: 2010.1237.


- Maìtres des Amériques. Hommage aux artistes précolombiens. La collection Dora et Paul Janssen. Fonds Mercator. Brussels y 54 Continents Editions. Milan. 2005.

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