Art of the Ancient Americas
Artist: Unknown

Pendant with Bird-Headed Figure

A.D. 800–1500


10.2 × 10 × 3 cm, 0.17 kg (4 × 3 15/16 × 1 3/16 in., 0.37 lb.)
The Harold A. Strickland, Jr., Collection
The metallurgical arts, especially gold work, established in Costa Rica from as early as the turn of the first millennium A.D., flourished especially after ca. A.D. 500. The Diquis region, encompassing a tract of land in the central latitudes of the modern nation and extending from the Pacific Coast on the west to the Talamanca mountains in the east, was one of the major hubs of Costa Rican gold-working. Excavations of the ancient cemeteries of the region have yielded large quantities of gold jewelry—pendants, bracelets, headbands, and more. The gold work of the Diquis frequently made use of animal forms as decorative motifs. This gold pendant depicts a winged, bird-headed creature clutching its prey, perhaps a fish, in its sharply hooked beak.
Costa Rica
Costa Rica, Diquis region

Laurence C. and Cora Witten; Spencer Throckmorton;. Harold A. Strickland, Jr.; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


“Acquisitions, 1998,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (1999): 200–201, ill.

Art for Yale: Collecting for a New Century, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2007), 194, 385–86, pl. 180, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.