Gold Pendant of a Bird Eating a Double-Headed Snake - FJ.6255, Origin: Costa Rican/Panamanian Border Area, Circa: 500 AD to 1550 AD, Dimensions: 3" (7.6cm) high x 2.75" (7.0cm) wide, Catalogue: V24, Collection: Pre-Columbian, Style: Pre-Columbian, Medium: Gold. As part of the complex iconography of Costa Rican gold, the image of bird and man is often mingled to a greater or lesser degree; sometimes with more human attributes, other times with more of the avian. This graceful pendant falls into the latter category; and goes a step further in presenting a highly abstract bird figure with shamanic overtones. The elegance of line and lovely curves of this pendant show true refinement. The wings are formed from two crescent shapes each with a textured border on the bottom. The main body sweeps down from the wings, narrows at the waist, then fans out into short horizontal bars representing feet or flared tails. The headdress is reminiscent of exotic birds with brilliantly colored plumes, composed of a two tiers of spirals and a fine crest in the center. In its sharply curved beak the bird holds a rope, which has two snake-like heads at the ends. There is sense of dominance and mastery, as if the bird has just conquered its prey and about to devour it. In this context birds were seen as a symbol of shamans (sorcerers) and the snake a creature of evil spirits which must be vanquished by courage and cunning; a concept marvelously symbolized in a work of art that is potent, pure and very beautiful.