Height: 7.700 cm
Gift of Sir A.W. Franks
Room 24: Living and Dying
Cast gold pendant of a winged shaman
From Popayán, Colombia, AD 100-1500
The figure on this pendant combines human attributes with the outstretched wings of a bird. These elements allude to shamanic powers of flight. After careful ritual preparations, the shaman ingests powerful hallucinogens which release his soul and enables him to 'fly' into other dimensions of the cosmos. Under the influence of such substances, the shaman believes that he can transform himself into an animal or bird and assume its powers and attributes.
The Spanish chronicles and documents of the colonial period record the use of hallucinogenic drugs by the people inhabiting the northern Andes including Colombia.
pendant was cast in
tumbaga, an alloy of
gold and copper, using the
C. McEwan (ed.), Precolumbian gold, technology, (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)
G. Reichel-Dolmatoff, Goldwork and shamanism: an ico, Medellín, Colombia, Editorial Colina (, 1988)
W. Bray, The gold of El Dorado, exh. cat. (London, Times Newspapers and Royal Academy of Arts, 1978)