Ancestral Wisdom Power and Transformation

Nose ornament with danglers, in the shape of a feline Calima-Malagana Region Yotoco Period -200/1300

Nose Ornament with Danglers, in the Shape of a Feline

Title: Nose ornament with danglers, in the shape of a feline
Creator: Calima-Malagana Region - Yotoco Period
Date: -200/1300
Physical Dimensions: w221 x h211 mm
Type: Goldwork
Location: People and Gold in Pre-Hispanic Colombia
Technique: Hammered and embossed gold
Finding: Colombia, Valle del Cauca, Restrepo
Accession number: O16637

A Chieftain of the Yotoco period in the Calima region, in the South-western part of Colombia, was buried with this gold ornament, his nose ring. When his tomb was found, they also discovered his earrings, his chest plate, some tweezers, other hanging pliers and two small figures: a masked man and another one depicting the chief with this nose ring, his chest plate and his large earrings.

The nose ornament is very special. The nose on it is very human and a simple ring decorated with a stone hangs from it. His eyes in green stone give him a penetrating look; his spotted skin and ears indicate a jaguar, the golden coloured American feline with night sight. The two lower extensions are the front legs and on both sides we can see, in accordance with the American Indian perspective showing the two sides simultaneously, the back legs doubled as the ravenous feline is preparing to jump at us.

Suspended from the nose, this extraordinary piece would cover the mouth and the lower part of the chief’s face, transforming him into a jaguar and investing him with its powers. EL

Spiritual leaders were specialists, guardians of the social order, who were believed to move between worlds and transform themselves into other forms and identities. Each new identity brought with it a different perspective or way of seeing the world: as hunter, prey, warrior, enemy or ancestor.

Pre-Hispanic peoples believed that by wearing objects representing animals, they would acquire the characteristics and skills of the animals represented and adored.

Spanish evangelizers arriving with the conquistadors, saw the jaguar as an idol used by the natives to worship the devil. This erroneous association between the catholic devil and the Amerindian jaguar drove the Crown to command the destruction of the material heritage associated with the great American feline.