Votive figure Tumbaga A.D. 600 – A.D. 1600 Guatavita, Cundinamarca 8 x 4,20 cm

Muisca: People and Gold in the Eastern Range

From the year 600 A.D. onwards, the Eastern Range was gradually inhabited by various peoples from the Chibcha linguistic family, who came from Central America. In 1536, the Europeans found Muiscas, Guanes, Laches, Chitareros and other groups, all of whom had economic, ritual and symbolic links and considered themselves to be close relatives. Bird-man breastplates and pottery pitchers are indications of this shared view of the world.

Chibcha life was deeply imbued with religious precepts. The priests, who were called 'jeques', inhaled a hallucinatory substance so they could communicate with mythical beings, and restored the balance in the universe by offering up figures of men, women, asexual beings and scenes, and a whole multitude of animals and everyday objects, all of which they placed in offering receptacles with human, animal, phallic or hut shapes. Even during the colonial era, the bodies of leading dignitaries were preserved as mummies and placed in deep caves, wrapped in several layers of blankets, nets and skins, with votive figures.

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Muisca and the Gold Museum Exhibition

Chieftains, Priests, Captains and Criers

Religious Life and Offerings

Eldorado Raft

The Three Goldwork Styles