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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Axe-shaped ornament made of gold.

  • Date

    • 1st century - 3rd century (McEwan 2009)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 19.8 centimetres
    • Width: 25.5 centimetres
    • Depth: 25.5 centimetres
    • Depth: 1.8 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    <b>McEwan 2009, p.22

    Gold Diadem with embossed face. Siguas culture, Peru, 1st-3rd century AD </b>

    The central image on this object is a disembodied head with large round eyes and outstretched arms. Beneath the mouth, a pattern of parallell vertical embellishments may represent a beard, and a continuous row of embossed circles - possibly dropletes of water - runs around the outer edge. Other similar figures have tear-lines visible on their cheeks and could be very early manifestations of the figure still described today in popular lore as the Andean Thunder God Tunupa - a celestial deity who controls the weather. The perforations visible around the head suggest that the object was sewn on to a textile backing and worn as a diadem affixed to a turban or headdress. They may have been used by rules to proclaim their supernatural powers and may also have adorned the mummy bundles of deified ancestors.


  • Bibliography

    • McEwan 2000 Figs. 1.1, 1.2 (Includes line drawing) bibliographic details
    • McEwan 2009 p. 22 bibliographic details
  • Exhibition history


    2003 15 Dec-2009 Jun, BM, 'Living and Dying'

  • Conservation

    See treatments 

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Africa, Oceania & the Americas

  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • Am1878C2.7820 (old CDMS no.)


If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: collectiondatabase@britishmuseum.org 

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Object reference number: ESA5588

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