The Treasury - Fine Pre-Columbian Art


6469. SINU GOLD CEREMONIAL FINIAL, Columbia, c. 500-1000 AD. The heavy cast gold finial with a large beaked bird with head held erect, and beak slightly open seated majestically on an attachment terminal in the form of an expanding shaft, the strong legs of the bird with long toes gripping the shaft, the smooth back with wings folded and ornamented tail plumage. The bird's rounded breast and underside distinguished by four rows of openwork spirals separated by herringbone bands, another openwork spiral beneath the tail. The base of the termina pierced for attachment to a wooden ceremonial staff. Uncleaned with remains of red cinnabar patina. 3 x 3 inches, 83 gm. of high karat gold (the Sinu are known for their use of high karat gold). An extremely rare large piece of unmelted pre-Columbian gold. Provenance: Acquired by the current owner at Harmer Rooke Galleries in the late 1980's.

The Sinu mastered the art of lost wax casting with the creation of such sculptural figures, used to crown ceremonial staffs. Cf. Wardwell, figs. 69 and 71, and Emmerich, fig. 91. for examples of avian finials, the later two in the collections of the Textile Museum, Washington, D.C., and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Also see a very similar piece in Sotheby's NY, 11/92, lot 48 estimated at $40,000-$60,000 when gold was less than $400/oz.

Price on request.