Though not as complex as some Tairona ornaments, this labret, which was fitted into a hole beneath the lower lip of an elite member of the society, is a fine example of the delicacy and refinement for which Tairona gold work is known. It shows that Tairona goldsmiths excelled in casting using the lost-wax process and in the fashioning of added ornaments that were incorporated into larger pieces, such as the small rings at the top of the head. The labret clearly depicts a creature, but exactly which kind is not clear. It has been suggested that it may be a stylized caiman or crocodile, but that identification is not conclusive.
Tairona culture, Santa Marta, Colombia
L. 1 5/8 in. (4.3 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 72.18