Crown with staff-bearing figures
- 800–200 BCE
During the first millennium BCE, the Chavín art style achieved its fullest development at the site of Chavín de Huántar in the Peruvian northern highlands. The first sophisticated Andean goldwork was produced during the fluorescence of Chavín culture and bears its symbols, the most influential of which was the principal deity, the Staff God. This impressive work on sheet gold repeats three portrayals of this Chavín deity. Powerful predators—jaguar, harpy eagle, caiman, and serpent—define his image: the snarling mouth has feline fangs; serpent heads emerge from the head and waist; talons marks fingers and toes. The figure’s frontal stance, the bilateral symmetry of the composition, and the combination of human and animal features are characteristic of the Chavín style. The sculptural clarity of the forms and the dramatic use of cut-out negative space distinguish the crown among other known examples of goldwork in the Chavín style.
Bonnie Pitman, ed., "Crown with deity figures (2005.35.McD)," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012), 22.
The form is not a complete, continuous cylinder and has a space and holes that could have been used for tying or lashing (securing or binding), and it thus likely functioned as a crown or headdress.
John Dennis, former DMA Conservator, made the important observation that the impression of roots marks the surface, suggesting that the crown had once been buried for some time.