The greatest artworks of the Quimbaya culture were gold poporos, containers that held powdered mineral lime to be chewed with coca leaves in order to induce trances. This shaman poporo possesses a calm expression with eyes narrowed in trance. A seated pose was considered one of authority, reserved for shamans and rulers. Quimbaya artwork is unique in depicting women in positions of power. This female shaman holds a gourd-form poporo in each hand. Some poporos took the shape of gourds, which may have had associations with fertility. From 1 to 1600 AD, the Quimbaya culture flourished in the Andes Mountain valleys of present-day northwestern Colombia. They excelled in lost-wax casting, a process by which an object was first sculpted in wax and a ceramic mold was made. The wax was then melted and drained, and hot liquid gold was poured into the mold. Once cool, the mold was cut away. The resulting cast-gold object was polished to a satin sheen. Quimbaya gold work is known for its beautiful surfaces and use of alloys.


Cataloguing data may change with further research.

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Artist
Quimbaya
Title
Female Shaman Pendant
Date
1–800 AD
Medium
Gold
Dimensions
Overall: 9 1/4 × 3 × 2 in. (23.5 × 7.6 × 5.1 cm)
Credit Line

Gift of Alfred C. Glassell, Jr.

Current Location
Not on view
Accession Number
2010.862
Classification
Metalwork
Provenance

Probably Frederick Lehmann; Alfred C. Glassell, Jr. Collection, Houston; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2010, 2010.862