AP Art History
2 October 2018
Double Crocodile Pendant
The Double Crocodile Pendant was crafted in Coclé, Panama around the 8th to 10th
century. This piece is traced back to the Macaracas culture of the area where lapidary arts were
very prominent. The pendant, made from cast gold and quartz, depicts two side by side creatures
with the combined features of a crocodile’s long snout and bifurcated tongue, the curled up nose
of a bat, and the crest of an iguana (“Double Crocodile Pendant”). This metal ornament is
thought to have been a symbol of status and power and would have been commissioned and
worn only by someone with wealth and high class. In Macaracas culture, animals were often
used in artwork to depict a certain strength or attribute of the person it was commissioned by,
which could be a reasoning behind the multiple animal features present in the pendant.
Coclé, Panama was part of the “intermediate area” ( Lothrop/ Roberts) which comprises
the geographic areas of Mesoamerica, the central to south Andes, portions of Honduras,
Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. Although the intermediate
area is made up of the aforementioned nations , it is considered more of a cultural region than a
geographic one. The geography of the region allowed for the trade of many materials such as
gold and other lapidary materials that were essential for the creation of works such as the Double
Crocodile Pendant. Panama in particular, its location straddling the Caribbean Sea, and the
Pacific Ocean, was a prime hub for the trading of such goods with the north and south.
The Double Crocodile Pendant is a prime example for art of the Cocle people. Art of this
area often included gold and stone motifs, curly-tailed animals, and winged pendants (Lothrop/
Roberts). Specifically in regards to the Double Crocodile Pendant, the particular animals and
features used were meant to represent specific attributes of the wearer. Animals are often
duplicated in works of art to represent totemic power, (Tressider 156) so this pendant was most
likely that of a family of similar ones, that could have been worn by a specific family of power.
The presence of crocodiles in South and Latin American cult...