Gold ring with feline head in relief

Mixtec, AD 1200-1521
From Mexico

The gold ring has a design of two snakes flanking a feline head in relief. Analysis by the Department of Scientific Research at The British Museum shows that it was made with an alloy of gold (about 74%) and silver (about 24%), with a small amount of copper probably occurred naturally in the gold deposits. It was cast by the lost-wax method. 

The technology of metalworking was introduced in Mesoamerica from further south, from the Isthmus of Central America (Panama and Costa Rica). One route of entry was by way of the Maya area into Central Mexico and adjacent regions. A second point of introduction was the coast of West Mexico and into the adjacent hinterland.

The style used in metalwork throughout the south of Mexico, from the Mexica* capital to the Maya frontier, has been called 'Mixtec', since it resembles that of the Mixteca-Puebla codices and pottery, and because the largest number of objects were found in the state of Oaxaca, where the Mixtec culture was centred.

Since related items are found all over the south of Mexico, it would be more appropriate to refer to this style as the 'South Mexico International Style', as suggested by Warwick Bray.

*The people and culture we know as 'Aztec' referred to themselves as the Mexica (pronounced Me-shee-ka).

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Gold ring with feline head in relief

Fig. 1: gold alloy ring

  • Fig. 2: SEM detail of ring

    Fig. 2: SEM detail of ring

  • Fig. 3: SEM detail of ring

    Fig. 3: SEM detail of ring

  • Fig. 4: chain pendant

    Fig. 4: chain pendant

 

More information

Bibliography

C. McEwan (ed.), Precolumbian gold, technology, (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)

W. Bray, 'Fine metal jewellery from Southern Mexico' in Homenaje a José Luis Lorenzo (México, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Col. Científica, Serie Prehistoria, 1989)

D. Williams and J. Ogden, Greek gold: jewellery of the c (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)

S. La Niece and N. Meeks, 'Diversity of goldsmithing traditions in the Americas and the Old World' in Precolumbian Gold: technology, (London, The British Museum Press, 2000), pp. 220-39

C. McEwan, Ancient Mexico in the British (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)

Dimensions

Height: 1.100 cm
Diameter: 2.000 cm

Museum number

AOA 1914.3-28.1

ESA10867

Gift of Ms Thornton

Location

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