Gold Pendant of a Jaguar - FJ.6165, Origin: Costa Rica, Circa: 11 th Century AD to 16 th Century AD, Dimensions: 1" (2.5cm) high, Collection: Pre-Columbian, Style: Pre-Columbian, Medium: Gold. Cats and cat imagery are significant to Pre-Columbian art from the earliest times, and the cat that had the greatest impact in New World mythology and art is the jaguar, the most impressive of the large American felines. Jaguars have flat, broad faces, powerful chests, and squat legs. Formidable hunters, they are said to swish their tails in a particularly hypnotic manner while hunting. Feline depictions on Costa Rican goldwork are usually called jaguars, based more upon generalized shape than on specific identifiable features. Despite his diminutive size, this jaguar manages to maintain an air of fierceness that commands respect and reverence. His ears are propped up, as if attentively listening for the slightest rustle that might indicate the movement of a potential prey. The elongated, large tail curves upwards, rising over the body, and indicating the importance of this appendage to the essence of the creature. Circular suspension loops are attached to his front paws, allowing the pendant to be hung from a necklace and displayed during public festivities or ceremonies. Clearly, this stunning work originally possessed a sacred religious significance that has been lost to us along with the majority of Pre-Columbian mythology. This gold pendant is more than just a decorative piece of jewelry, proudly worn to announce an individual’s wealth and status; instead it is a powerful mythological emblem that possessed the sacred energy of the sun (which was believed to give gold its color) and the jaguar, the king of all creatures.