Gold Pendant of a Costumed Shaman Holding Two Snakes - FJ.6253, Origin: Costa Rican/Panamanian Border Area, Circa: 500 AD to 1550 AD, Dimensions: 3.25" (8.3cm) high, Catalogue: V24, Collection: Pre-Columbian, Style: Pre-Columbian, Medium: Gold. Just as contemporary role models are placed on posters and billboards, the ancient people of Costa Rica sought to immortalize their "heros" through the art of gold ornaments. Their purpose was somewhat different from ours, in that the figures of great importance, such as chiefs and especially shamans, were crucial in holding together the fabric of society through secular and sacred means. It is known that warriors wore gold into battle to inspire awe; and shamans also used ornaments of gold as symbols of special powers. This extraordinary and very beautiful pendant depicts what is most likely a shaman in ritual costume performing in a ceremony. He wears a gorgeous and flamboyant headdress composed of three sections--one conical shape pointing straight up from the center, while the other two curve dramatically towards the man's pointed shoulders. The mask he wears is crocodile-like and intended to be fierce; as the jaguar image on his stomach. Most significant are the two snakes he holds by the necks. The handling of snakes without harm may have enhanced the spiritual or social power of a shaman; and would have been fantastic entertainment at the same time! This pendant may commemorate such an event when a powerful sorcerer thrilled the people with his skills; just as we are thrilled by the skills of a talented goldsmith.