Breastplate

Breastplate

c. AD 400-1000
Locale
central Panama Azuero Peninsula
Country
Colombia
Style/Tradition
Parita
pectoral
Hammered gold alloy
Department acquisition funds
1965.196

Unknown Artist, Breastplate with Frontal Figure, Parita style (Parita region, Azuero Peninsula, Central Panama) about CE 1150–1400. Gold alloy; 5.25 inches.
Denver Art Museum: Department acquisition funds, 1965.196.

Dimensions
diameter: 5.25 in, 13.3350 cm
Department
Mayer Center, Art of the Ancient Americas
Collection
Art of the Ancient Americas

Breastplate
Parita style
About A.D. 1150–1400
Central Panama, Azuero Peninsula
Gold alloy
Department acquisition funds, 1965.196

Hammered gold breastplates from central Panama are decorated with intricate embossed images of supernatural beings with claws, bared teeth, and serpentine appendages. Closely similar beings, often in dynamic poses, are painted on polychrome pottery from the same region. Long known collectively as the Crocodile God, such creatures actually combine traits from many creatures, including iguanas, sharks, and even deer.

The highest ranking members of ancient Panamanian society were buried with numerous human attendants and lavish offerings. These included polychrome pottery and gold ornaments such as helmets, breastplates, wrist guards, pendants, and beaded necklaces. Other valuable materials placed in graves include turtle carapaces, stingray spines, whale teeth, shark teeth, boar tusks, carved bone, agate, quartz, emerald, and serpentine.

Exhibition History
  • “Stampede: Animals in Art” — Denver Art Museum, 9/10/2017