Gold figurine of a flute player from Panama

Object number
Object: Pre-Hispanic gold figurine of a flute player from Panama

Material: Gold.

Period: 11th cent. AD to early 16th cent. AD.
Era before Spanish influence.

Description:    Flat figurine of a flute player from Panama. The small male figure stands naked on a strip with his knees slightly bent, his face depicted animal like. The figurine brings the flute to his mouth with both hands. On each side of the head there is a decoration of spirals and a blade-shaped plate. The back is concave and has an eyelet with which the figurine was worn as a pendant around the neck.
The gold pendant comes from the Gran Coclé culture of Panama, or the cultures of Veragua or Chiriquí, which were all directly adjacent both geographically and artistically.

Background: In pre-Hispanic times, cities and closely neighboring cultures lay on the Central American land bridge, today's state of Panama. Archaeologically they are known for their painted ceramics and fine gold work. Gold works like this were highly valued and traded over long distances in Central America. Comparable pieces were found by archaeologists 2,500 km away in Chichén Itzá. These will have been status symbols of an elite. The depiction of hybrids of humans and animals was popular and today's researchers see small differences in style and iconology between the individual cultures. In the period between 1200 and 1600 AD however, these differences increasingly disappeared. The figurine offered here emerged from a largely uniform Panamanian culture, in the time right before the old crafts came to an end under the influence of the Spaniards.

Dimensions: 55mm height, 48mm width. Approx. 23g weight.

Condition: Small missing part on the left knee, as well as tiny missing parts on the head, the left chest and right knee. Part of the stance line on the left side of the figure is missing. Overall the figurine is in great condition and worthy of display in a museum.

Provenance: Acquired by us on the German art market in 2022. Previously in the German private collection U. C. Acquired on 12 July 1984 from the US art dealer Fine Arts of Ancient Lands. A copy of the invoice is available.
Many archaeological finds and isolated river finds in the Panama region were made in the first half of the 20th century. It is possible that the object offered here came to light then and found its way into the art market.

References: For a similar piece on the art market, see David Bernstein Fine Art, Subtle Genius, Collecting Pre-Colombian Gold, no. 41, acc. no. n7033 (offered for 16,000 USD).
Figures from Panama with comparable stylistic elements can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, acc. nos. 1979.206.1155 (Coclé), 1974.271.26 and 66.196.8 (Chiriqui), 1974.271.61 (Veraguas).

Authenticity: We unconditionally guarantee the authenticity of every artefact, all items are subject to our lifetime return policy on authenticity.