- Museum number
Lime-flask in the form of a seated woman holding spiral-shaped attributes in her hands, made in tumbaga by lost-wax casting with core. She is naked, sitting on a four-legged stool, and wears metal helmet, series of ear-rings, nose ornament, necklace and leg-bands. Holes for core-supports appear at the buttocks and shoulders.
- Production date
Height: 14.50 centimetres
Width: 7.50 centimetres
Depth: 5.50 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Gold-copper alloy figure of Tumbaga sitting on a four-legged stool with "sceptres" in each hand.
Ancient Quimbaya work (c.1000-1500AD?), Cauca Valley, Colombia.
Description published in National Art Collections Fund annual report for 1940.
Specific gravity 9.7, only slightly higher than bronze, see report of laboratory August 1940.
McEwan 2009, p.83
Seated female figure
Unusually for a woman, she is seated on a ritual stool indicative of her high status. She is represented nude and wears ligatues just above the ankle and beneath their knees. She wears a special kind of head cap with a decorated border, multiple earrings, a nose ornament and a stringed necklace. Her eyes are half closed as if to signal a contemplative state of mind and she holds spiral volutes in either hand. These might be interpreted as objects, but no actual examples like this are known. Conceivably they may allude to sprigs of sprouting vegetation which could have been carried or presented as part of seasonal fertility rites.
Vila Llonch 2013
Quimbaya goldsmiths used the lost-wax technique with double-moulds to produce spectacular hollow objects, such as these lime flasks (poporo). They are some of the most technically complex and stunning objects found in the Americas. The design and material of lime containers (used in ritual coca-chewing) varied according to the owner’s status and the wealth of the community. The two figures here are represented fully naked, with body ornaments, including piercings, and marks on their legs to indicate body binding. They hold ritual implements or plants in their hands. [...] The female figure is seated on a stool, a sign of high rank and status.
- On display (G24/dc7)
- Exhibition history
1996, London, Museum of Mankind (Room 1), 'Gilded Image'
2003/4 Oct-Jan, London, Hayward Gallery, 'Saved!100 Years of the National Art Collections Fund', no.60
2013 Oct 17 - 2014 Mar 23. BM, 'Beyond El Dorado: Power and Gold in Ancient Colombia'
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Purchased by NACF from Lady Davies and presented to BM.
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number