Pre-Columbian, North Coast Peru, Chavin, ca. 900 to 200 BCE. An impressive ensemble of wearable art intended for a lord or shaman from the ancient Chavin peoples, all made from high karat gold that was hammered from yellow gold nuggets found in the River Jequetepeque. The ensemble includes a breathtaking double-strand necklace comprised of hundreds of spherical 18 karat gold beads and a very large half-moon shaped, ~ 20 karat gold pendant as well as the elements of a crown including a beautiful 18 karat circular roundel with a protruding center and 6 danglers representing the sun, flanked by six rectangular plaques comprised of more than 20 karat gold. Among the oldest goldworks from ancient Peru. Size: Each of the gold bead strands measures 18" L (45.7 cm); lunate pendant measures 5.625" W x 3.875" H (14.3 cm x 9.8 cm); sun-shaped central crown element measures 2.25" W (5.7 cm) + .5" L (1.3 cm) danglers; rectangular plaques measure 1.25" W x 1" H (3.2 cm x 2.5 cm); custom stand measures 13.75" W x 18.25" H (34.9 cm x 46.4 cm)
These items represent some of the earliest gold work from the Andes. The first known extraction of ore comes from the Initial/Formative period, ca. 1800 to 900 BCE; during the Early Horizon (ca. 900 to 200 BCE), when these were made, the Andes seem to have been united under the cult propagated out of Chavin de Huantar. Metalwork was still quite rare, and almost exclusively of gold.
This ensemble brings to mind the fabulous exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art entitled, "Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas" (February 28 - May 28, 2018). According to the curatorial team, "In the ancient Americas, metals were employed primarily for ritual objects and regalia, rather than tools, weapons, or currency. These items were considered to be imbued with sacred power by those who created and those who used them. Gold, transformed into objects made for gods and rulers, provides the central narrative and trajectory of the exhibition…" (https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2018/golden-kingdoms/exhibition-galleries)
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex-private Hirsch collection, Germany
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