Pre-Columbian, Peru-Ecuador Border, Frias Culture, ca. 500 to 100 BCE. Four miniature gold picaflores (Spanish for hummingbirds) hammered from 18 karat gold sheet made from nuggets found in the Maranon River. These wonderful hummingbirds still retain some of their original tail-feather danglers as well as filigree details, and are among the earliest gold sculptures from Peru! All are perched upon a marvelous tree-shaped metal stand! Size: each bird measures ~ 2" L x 1" H (5.1 cm x 2.5 cm) (the length including tailfeathers); ensemble measures 5" H (12.7 cm) on included custom stand.
To the ancients of the Pre-Columbian world, hummingbirds were associated with the sun. Appreciated for their shiny, iridescent feathering and aerial acrobatics, hummingbirds made for ideal solar metaphors. Since these birds are known to hover, seemingly motionless, and fly up, down and even backwards, the ancients likened their motions to that of the sun's hovering in the sky at the solstices when it is also known to reverse its celestial direction. In addition, hummingbirds can assume a torpid state when it is cold at night or during brief periods in the winter. However, they come back to life in the spring warmth. This unique ability to "die" and "resurrect" signified rebirth to the ancients of the Americas, precisely at a time when planting and, in this sense, "renewed life" occurred. How magical!
Provenance: private Hawaii, USA collection; ex-Laurence Witten collection, Florida, USA
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