Disk Pendant

Disk Pendant

1000–1500 CE
Greater Chiriqui
Panama, Costa Rica
This disk was fashioned using a combination of hammering, annealing, and repousse.
Accession Number
Credit Line
Collection of Frederick and Jan Mayer

Unknown artist, Disk Pendant. Diquis Region, Costa Rica or Panama, 1000–1500 CE. Gold alloy. .125 x 6.5 in. Gift of the Collection of Frederick and Jan Mayer, 1996.86. 

depth: 1/8 in, 0.3175 cm; diameter: 6 1/2 in, 16.5100 cm
Mayer Center, Arts of the Ancient Americas
Arts of the Ancient Americas

About A.D. 1000 – 1500
Costa Rica, Diquís region
Gold alloy
Gift of Frederick and Jan Mayer, 1996.86

Gold breastplates, worn by both men and women, were mentioned in the first reports of Columbus’s contact with indigenous peoples on the mainland of Costa Rica in 1504.  The broad circular ring in the middle of this disk would have acted as a mirror, reflecting beams of sunlight.  The circular form and brilliant gold color were probably associated with the sun.  The manufacture of large gold disks was a laborious process that required a combination of cold hammering and annealing to flatten and join nuggets of gold, or ingots of gold-copper alloy.  The decoration was done using a technique called repoussé, which involved placing the object on a piece of soft leather or textile and pressing patterns into it with a pointed instrument made from wood, bone, or antler.  The object was worked on from both the back and the front, depressing concave spaces and pressing out convex ones.

Exhibition History
  • “ReVision: Art in the Americas” — Denver Art Museum, 10/24/2021 – 7/17/2022