Ancestral Wisdom Chiefs as Wise Figures

Lime container in the shape of a female figure
Mid-Cauca (Quimbaya) Early Period -500/700

Lime Container in the Shape of a Female Figure

Title: Lime container in the shape of a female figure
Creator: Mid-Cauca (Quimbaya) - Early Period
Date: -500/700
Physical Dimensions: w118 x h271 mm
Type: Goldwork
Location: Cosmology and Symbolism room
Technique: Lost wax casting with core, in tumbaga
Finding: Colombia, Antioquia, Puerto Nare
Accession number: O32852

This large size receptacle for lime or poporo is a realistic representation of a naked woman, dressed in ornaments and wearing face paint, who is sitting down and holding a bar with birds in each hand and a hanging plate. The helmet, nose ring, earrings and a necklace with various strings decorating her are identical to those found in some very wealthy tombs discovered in the Mid Cauca region, and this indicates that it corresponds to a high class woman.
Figures of women with their sexual parts enhanced, like in the case of this poporo, and sometimes pregnant, are frequent in the Quimbaya goldwork of the early period and in ceramic urns used in the most sumptuous trousseaus, as if the leaders had an important role related to fertility and reproduction. This woman’s meditative and static expression and her posture holding the bars with the birds confer to her a ceremonious and solemn appearance, as if she were participating in a ritual. The inexpressive gesture of her face and her eyes half shut suggest she is lost in thought, a typical condition of altered states of consciousness. MAU

The figures are usually depicted in solemn, meditative gazes, in a sitting position. These characteristics were associated with being wise and knowledgeable. Only chiefs and spiritual leaders were allowed to use chairs, as sitting is associated with reflective thought.