We saw this amazing religious art piece “La Lechuga” at the Museo do Oro (gold museum) in Bogota Colombia last month. It’s stunningly beautiful – and nicknamed ‘the lettuce’ because of the intensity of the 1485 emeralds on it – plus 13 rubies, 28 diamonds, 169 amethysts, 62 baroque pearls and 1 sapphire. Constructed of 4.9kg+ gold (the gold colour’s a bit washed out, I haven’t been able to correct it) It took the Spanish silversmith Jose de Galaz 7 years to make 1700-07. After I took this photo I was told by the guard that photos were not allowed in that part of the museum, and so what was to have been the close-up of the whole thing remains the only pic we have, but you can see it in its awesome splendor and correct gold and other colours at http://www.banrepcultural.org/blaavirtual/coleccionarte/artplas/custcol.htm Do a virtual visit of the Museo del Oro at http://www.banrepcultural.org/museo-del-oro and http://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/collection/museo-del-oro-bogota?projectId=art-project There’s a similar piece, though not as grand imho, called ‘La Preciosa’ and you can see that also on wikpedia, I think – or perhaps the first link above.
We love museums, fine craftsmanship, and gold of course – so of course obviously we made a beeline for the Museo del Oro in Bogota , and there are regional smaller collections in major cities so we went in Medellin and Cartagena, too! What we especially liked in Bogota was that seniors go in free of charge! and one day a week everyone can go in free – that would be a crush – it was pretty crowded both times we went …
The text along side this told us that this regalia (a nose plate and earings) was found in a tomb from the Yotoco period. It related the wearer the mystical powers of felines, and the circular markings liken it to the jaguar, as do the prolongations to its limbs. Note the emerald eyes!! The craftsmanship was breathaking – and it is so interesting that the cat quality could be so captured in that head on perspective. This gold was pretty thin, though I imagine the nose accessory, measuring about 8cm x 10cm overall would have required some practice to wear successfully with due dignity, if it was ever actually worn in real life, and that would have been magnificent to see. But it might have been a kind of death mask thing.
It is always interesting to remember that people everywhere repair important objects – which are precious for some reason, including practicality. I will never forget an exhibition we saw years ago at the Musee Quai Branley in Paris, about which I blogged in Totally Memorable Exhibition. I wandered off to google about mending things in general, and found lots of articles, many of which mention kintsugi, the Japanese art of mending ceramics with a ‘golden seam’ – just google that word and check the images. I even found http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/mending.htm which some might find helpful….