Man with Mask Brooch

Long before the arrival of the Europeans and others, Native people of Latin America had mastered many metallurgical techniques, including mining, hammering, and casting gold to produce jewelry, ornaments, masks, and other items. In ancient Latin America, gold symbolized power and spiritual wealth but was never used for money. Human figures of this type were carried by shamans and are thought to represent the spirits that empowered and assisted them. The jewelry and figurine offered by our museum store is adapted from a cast-gold original found in Panama that dates to AD 900-1500.The Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian has many examples of pre-Columbian gold in its collection.

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