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Figural Pendant (work of art)

Artwork Info

circa 750–1550
Costa Rican (Diquis region and Chiriqui culture)
2 x 1 3/4 inches (5.1 x 4.4 centimeters)


Gift of Dr. Clifton F. Mountain and Mrs. Marilyn T. Mountain

Ancient American

Key Ideas about this Work of Art

  • This gold pendant was cast from a mold. It uses simplified shapes to depict an eagle in flight. Its wings and tail are spread wide and its talons are clenched as if it is preparing to attack. The eagle wears a headdress with a double-headed serpent.  
  • Animals were used to depict divine beings in Mesoamerica and Central America and had ritual significance. They often represented the supernatural beings of the natural world. 
  • The eagle may wear the serpent headdress to suggest the stages of transformation of a shaman, a person with access to supernatural powers or the spirit world, during ceremonial rituals.

Learn More

This pendant was worn as an emblem of prestige and power. It portrays an eagle that spreads its wings and extends its talons in an attack pose. Note the double-headed serpent emerging from the eagle’s head. Images such as these are thought to depict various stages of the transformation of a shaman, a religious practitioner with magical powers.

tags: fashion, ritual, power, meaning, symbolism, function

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  • A gold pendant of an eagle wearing a headdress.

    Figural Pendant