Exhibiting Historical Art: Out of the Vault: Stories of People and Things

Significance of the Bird Form

The pendants were first named aguilas (eagles) by Christopher Columbus who first noted them as he sailed along the Caribbean coast of Central America at the beginning of the sixteenth century. It is likely, however, that aspects of many different birds went into the artistic formation of the pendants, although specialists today do not always agree on which birds those might be. Some also think that the bird is rather a "King Vulture," scaring off other predatory birds with its wings. The symbolic meaning of bird pendants is not exactly known, but one theory holds that the pendants represent birds of prey, and that they functioned as protective emblems.

This page has paths: