Skip Navigation

Pendant in the Form of a Spider

Arts of the Americas

In Costa Rica gold animal pendants were often worn by and buried with elite members of Chiriquí society. The eagle’s broad tail and outstretched wings may symbolize the animal’s ability to soar high into the sky and enter the supernatural realm. The spider’s legs end in human hands, which hold a double-headed snake. The abdomen, adorned with a bird and two crocodilian heads, is a bell that would have made a tinkling sound as the wearer moved. Depictions of predatory animals would have inspired awe and respect and provided the wearer with power and protection.
  • Place Made: Costa Rica
  • DATES 1000–1500
    DIMENSIONS 3 3/4 x 3 1/8 in. (9.5 x 8 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
    CREDIT LINE Alfred W. Jenkins Fund
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Gold pendant in the form of a spider with a large bell as the spider's abdomen. The spider appears to hold a double-headed snake. The bell is decorated with two animal heads and what might be a flower with three petals. Condition: good.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Possibly Chiriquí. Pendant in the Form of a Spider, 1000–1500. Gold, 3 3/4 x 3 1/8 in. (9.5 x 8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Alfred W. Jenkins Fund, 35.234. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 35.234_PS1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 35.234_PS1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2006
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
    You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form (charges apply). For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch. For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright. If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact
    Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.