A week into 2014 and a trip to the British Museum restores tranquillity.
One of the current exhibitions is Beyond El Dorado. For those of you of a certain age when we hear El Dorado we think of the dodgy BBc soap from the early 1990’s. This exhibition however looks at the gold and culture of the ancient peoples of Columbia. Today if you say Columbia many people think of roasted coffee or drug barons. Go back 400 years and you would have thought Gold.
Ancient cultures including our own, have been fascinated by gold as status symbols and as highly prized luxury items throughout history. This fascinating culture takes this to a whole different level – It is the gangster rapper of Bling cultures. There is nothing subtle this is if you have it flaunt it!
Similar to our own Celtic heritage ancient Colombians wore jewellery of precious metal however instead of Tors silver and enamel for the neck it was nose and ear piercings of gold. The more bling the further up the power chain you were.
By all accounts society had hierarchy, customs rituals and spiritual rights which both coca leaves Lime and gold played vital parts. Drug use had spiritual and ritual use in order for you get close to gods. It was sniffed, smoked, inhaled consumed. The addition of lime to the coca leaves creates a mind altering drug experience. Due to the precious items used as drug paraphernalia made of gold and highly crafted and decorated it is assumed that it was for spiritual use rather than just recreational.
The threat from jaguars cats was clearly important to these people. The images in gold and pottery could be described as primitive on one hand but could also be seen as deconstructed the same way that Picasso deconstructed his 20th century pictures of faces, bodies and war as seen in the picture Guernica.