Collection Highlight: Necklace of Double Effigy Pendants

gold necklace with small bat shaped pendants

Coclé Province, Panama, Necklace of Double Effigy Pendants, ca. AD 800-1500, Gold, Purchased with funds from Friends of the Art Museum, # 2008.16.1

The Art of the Americas: Mexico and Central America gallery has opened in a new space on the Museum’s 2nd floor, and a highlight of the collection is the Necklace of Double Effigy Pendants, also known as the gold bat necklace (by this author).

This necklace from the Coclé province, which lies immediately west of Panama Province, is dated to between 800-1500. The necklace depicts bats in flight with tall pointed ears, outspread tails and rounded bodies from which projects a rectangular dangle that would quiver and catch the light as the wearer moved. When worn by the chiefs or members of the ruling elite such a necklace would have shed a golden glow that was regarded as magical.

The bat was a potent symbol of supernatural power in ancient Pre-Columbian cultures. A night hunter, the bat represented the forces of darkness and the unknown. Additionally, the joining of two bats made it even more powerful by visually signifying the dual forces of life and death. As such the bat would be a powerful avatar for a warrior chief to wear.

Come see this fabulous piece!

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