Two Coasts and No Army, 2: Buried Treasure, 29 December 2023

January 08, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

         Though San José may lack the grandeur of many capital cities, it does possess several museums in close proximity to the Teatro Nacional.  The downtown attractions that piqued my interest were clustered around the aptly named Plaza de la Cultura.  HL and I found the plaza easily enough, but we had to search for the Museum of Pre-Columbian Gold/ El Museo del Oro Precolombino.  The museum's entrance was below the offices of the main branch of the National Bank of Costa Rica.  In fact, for a single, modest fee, we were admitted to a subterranean complex of three museums, known collectively as The Central Bank's Museums/ Los Museos del Banco Central.  The gold was on the lowest level.

       A widely spiraling staircase ended in an antechamber designed to look like an archaeological excavation site, presumably a tomb.  

         The collection contained thousands of Pre-Columbian artifacts, ceramic and stone as well as gold.  There were works from the indigenous people of all the regions of what would become Costa Rica.  The objects had been made between 700 to 1500 CE.  Golden jewelry and ritual items gleamed in the showcases.  I was impressed by the goldsmiths' skill as well as their designs, many of them incorporating the animals of the region.  These included miniature jaguars, deer, harpy eagles and even a pair of golden lobsters.

The displays were well lit and labeled.  In addition to numerous maps and explanatory texts, there was a scale model of an indigenous village and life-sized figures wearing warriors' and shamans' regalia. 

 

          I should have been satisfied if the exhibits that I have mentioned so far were all that the museum had to offer.  Yet the most remarkable work there was not made of gold, gems or earthenware, but of light.  You may, justifiably, accuse me of saving the best for last.  Yet the installation called U Sulé merits a separate description, and I shall provide it anon.
       


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