Treasure of the Quimbayas

Treasure of the Quimbayas
Treasure of the Quimbayas

Using the name of Treasure of the Quimbayas is known a set of about 130 pieces cast in gold that were found in 1892 in two Colombian shaft tombs, for course attributable to the pre-Columbian culture of the Quimbayas. Some pieces that were taken to the American Historical Exhibition that was held in Madrid that same year.

Human figures from the Quimbayas Treasure

Human figures from the Quimbayas Treasure

And after its exhibition, the treasure was given to the Spanish people, and for that reason today it is displayed in one of the rooms of the Museo de América in Madrid. Something that is not exempt from controversy, since from time to time the Colombian authorities demand ownership of these valuable pieces.

The set itself is very varied, since there are many jewelry objects such as necklaces, needles or earmuffs, but there are also gold helmets or a peculiar crockery in which containers with shapes are not lacking human. And there are also two musical instruments and up to half a dozen objects that are male and female figures.

It is curious to see in these human figures how the goldsmiths have represented the jewels that are part of the treasure. That is to say, we can know what was used as a necklace, bracelet or earmuff, and how they were placed to adorn the bodies. For example, it is appreciated that the bracelets were not only used for the wrists, but also forbelow the knees or ankles. Or that the earrings or earmuffs adorned the edge of the auditory pavilion.

Although, it is true that the figures here only wear those jewels, since their bodies are shown completely naked, whether they are men or women. Some bodies in which symmetry and also frontality predominate, since the volumes are clearly flattened.

The truth is that they are figures with a round shape, but the absolute predominance is from the front view, and less from the rear, with the profile views being the least important. Something that also has to do with the concept of hieraticism and the total absence of movement.

Various objects from the Treasure of the Quimbayas

Various objects from the Quimbaya Treasure

Within the trousseau, the containers and the different objects are very important, but without a doubt, artistically speaking, the most impressive are the human figures. In them, the disproportionate size of their heads is striking, where every last detail has been taken care of in the casting of gold. In this way we see very worked faces that show us the beauty ideal of the Cultura Quimbaya.

This is possibly the most beautiful and technically refined example of indigenous American goldsmithing.

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