Collection online

votive figure / tunjo

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Tunjo made of gold by lost-wax casting. It depicts a man with a hat and a necklace, holding a staff with a bird at its upper end.

  • Ethnic name

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 600-1600
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 7 centimetres
    • Width: 3 centimetres
    • Depth: 0.2 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    Vila Llonch 2013
    Tunjos, or votive offerings, were placed by Muisca people across their territory, under special landmarks such as rocks and trees, and in caves, rivers and lakes – places believed to be gateways to different worlds. Tunjos usually depict male and female figures, animals, as well as groups and scenes, all providing a window into Muisca life and rituals. Muisca artisans left the figures unpolished, and did not mend mistakes made in the casting process. These were not objects of beauty to be admired, but their imagery and the metal itself were important in communicating with the supernatural.


  • Bibliography

    • Vila Llonch 2013 p.60 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    1996, London, Museum of Mankind (Room 1), 'Gilded Image'
    2013 Oct 17 - 2014 Mar 23. BM, ‘Beyond El Dorado: Power and Gold in Ancient Colombia’

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Africa, Oceania & the Americas

  • Registration number



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: ESA12730

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