Bell

CULTURE:
Quimbaya
DATE:
400–700 CE
more object details

General Description

Among the societies of Central America, gold ornaments were important symbols of power and prestige that expressed authority and status in life and in death. The pre-Hispanic goldwork of Colombia is traditionally classified by archaeological zones, or regions, each with stylistic associations, varying in iconography and technology: Calima, Quimbaya, Tolima, and Nariño in the southwest; Zenú (Sinú) and Tairona in northwestern Colombia; and Muisca in the central highlands southeast of Bogotá. The Quimbaya style was first identified in 1890, when an elite burial of six individuals with 122 gold objects was found near the village of Filandia in the middle Cauca Valley. All these gold objects are now housed in the Museo de América in Madrid, known as the Treasure of the Quimbayas.

The richly varied works of this region were primarily objects of personal adornment. Headdress elements, pectorals, bracelets, anklets, and nose and ear ornaments probably functioned as ceremonial regalia for elite men. Decorated with a series of delicate braided gold filigree, the bell has two suspension loops on the top which suggest it may have originally been worn as a pendant. The image is bilaterally symmetrical for maximum decorative effect—craftsmen cleverly adapted the natural form to the functional demands of this jewelry. The bell would have responded to the wearer’s movements, reflecting light and producing gentle metallic sounds. When worn together, as many pieces undoubtedly were, they would have created a dazzling golden image.

Adapted from

  • Bonnie Pitman, ed., "Ceremonial mask (1976.W.321)," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012), 33.

  • Bonnie Pitman, ed., "Headdress ornament with heads flanked by crested crocodiles (1976.W.319)," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012), 34.

  • Carol Robbins, "Ceremonial mask (1976.W.321)," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection, ed. Suzanne Kotz (Dallas, TX: Dallas Museum of Art, 1997), 178.

  • Bonnie Pitman, ed., "Pendant with two frogs (1976.W.292), Pendant bell depicting a turtle (1976.W.301), Pendant depicting a batlike mask (1976.W.237)," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012), 35.

  • "Lime Container (Poporo) (1991.419.22)." In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–.https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/1991.419.22/. (August 2009).

Fun Facts

  • This bell was featured in the _World of Ancient Gold _exhibit at the New York's World's Fair, Travel and Transportation Pavilion (April 22-October 18, 1964).