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. Within Inca culture, llamas were both practically and symbolically important, and these traditions continue into the present. Llama figurines, used in pairs, are symbols of fertility and abundance to Native people of the Andes region who depend on these animals for meat for food, wool for textile production, and as pack animals in the steep mountains. The llama figurine offered by our museum store is adapted from a gold original found in Peru that dates to AD 1400-1500. The Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian has many examples of pre-Columbian gold in its collection.
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