Collection online

offering / figurine

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Miniature llama figurine, wrought in hammered gold, probably deposited as an offering.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1500 (circa)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 6.3 centimetres
    • Width: 1 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    <b> McEwan 2009, p.72

    Miniature Gold Llama. Inca, Peru, 14th-15th century </b>

    Llamas are a vital source of meat and wool for altiplano communities as well as being pack animals. The size and health of its herds are a direct measure of a community's health and prosperity. Along with miniature human figurines, miniature golden llamas were deposited as offerings to accompany high-altitude human sacrifices to the mountain deities <i>apus</i> to ensure the arrival of the life-giving moisture that replenishes the altiplano grasses and promotes the fertility of the herds.


  • Bibliography

    • MacGregor 2010 73 bibliographic details
    • McEwan 2000 Fig 11.20 (Includes radiograph image) bibliographic details
    • McEwan 2009 p. 72 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    1996, London, Museum of Mankind (Room 1), Gilded Image
    2003-2009 15 Dec-Jun, BM, Living and Dying
    2010-2011, London, BM/BBC, A History of the World in 100 Objects
    2014 April-June, Abu Dhabi, Manarat Al Saadiyat, A History of the World
    2014-2015 13 Dec-15 Mar, Taiwan, National Palace Museum (NPM), A History of the World
    2015 18 Apr-28 June, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, A History of the World
    2015 14 Jul-6 Sep, Fukuoka, Kyushu National Museum, A History of the World

  • Conservation

    See treatments 

    Treatment date

    21 August 2003

    Reason for treatment

    Permanent Exhibition

    Treatment proposal

    Light clean. Renumber the Llama.


    Dirty and greasy. Light tarnish in some patches.

    Treatment details

    Cleaned to remove dirt and grease with acetone applied on cotton wool swabs. Used detarol (10% in distilled water ) applied on swabs to remove some light tarnish/discolouration. The detarol was rinsed off with distilled water on swabs and dried with a paper tissue and acetone swabs. Renumbered. Applied registration number.

    About these records 

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Africa, Oceania & the Americas

  • Registration number


Llama figurine made of gold.

Side: right

Llama figurine made of gold.

Image description



If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: 

View open data for this object with SPARQL endpoint

Object reference number: ESA12178

British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.

View this object

Support the Museum:
donate online

The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.

About the database

The British Museum collection database is a work in progress. New records, updates and images are added every week.

More about the database 


Work on this database is supported by a range of sponsors, donors and volunteers.

More about supporters and how you
can help