While sailing the coast of Panama in 1502,
Christopher Columbus reports having seen
Indians with "mirrors" of gold worn around their
necks. No detailed description of these 'mirrors'
was recorded, though we may speculate that
unornamented disks were what the Spaniards
meant. Pectorals or breastplates such as this
beautiful example were an essential part of
ornamentation, probably reserved for important
individuals such as chiefs, warriors and shamans.
Some have only an embossed border, while
others are beautifully decorated. A common
motif are faces or masks with staring eyes, and
exposed teeth. There are six identical faces
swirling around this disk, separated by triangles
which appear like abstract rays radiating from the
double-banded inner circle. The entire design is
repeated on the reverse, creating an exact mirror
image. The number of holes on this disk
suggests it may have been designed to hang from
a beam, free-spinning; as well as around the
neck. It's circularity and perfect balance makes
this disk seem to revolve forever; eternally
fascinating and lovely.