Pectoral Tumbaga 0 - 550 A.D. El Dragón, Calarcá, Quindío 23,4 x 25,7 cm

Tolima: People and Gold in the Magdalena Valley

In the hot mid-Magdalena valley and on the slopes of the central and eastern ranges in northern Huila and Tolima provinces, remains dating back 16,000 years have been found that were left by groups of hunters, fishermen and gatherers. Later, fish, lizards, crickets and fantastic beings in which features of various species were combined were cast in gold. Symmetrical pendants evoke man in different degrees of schematisation, while men, bats and feline figures merge in a continuous stream of transformations. In one breastplate found in Calarcá, Quindío, the human body is restricted to two dimensions but is set in multiple symmetries, the whole being brought to life by the shine and the skilful play of the decorative motifs. The backs of funeral chairs portray the human figure in schematised form, surrounded by amphibians and reptiles.

A well tomb that was dug out in Suárez, Tolima, shows that gold was not the only symbol of power and hierarchy, as it contained objects made of shell and clay.


Tolima and the Gold Museum Exhibition

Pottery on the Slopes of the Magdalena Valley.

Man and Bat

Funerary Urns and Secondary Burials