Saturday, September 8, 2012

All That Glitters at the Gold Museum

Gold football helmet from the Museo Del Oro
Abandoning the Bike Tour allowed me time, and made it logistically possible, to visit a few of the museums in La Candelaria.  The first stop was the #1 attraction in all of Bogotá, the Museo Del Oro, the Gold Museum.

Having abandoned la bicicleta, I walked.  Given the crowds on the sidewalks and the traffic in the street, it probably took me the same amount of time.  I walked past Plaza Del Rosario.  Note the heavy police presence.  There are a lot of police and security guards working in this part of Bogotá.  It's too heavy-handed as they're not brandishing automatic weapons in your face, but they are plentiful.
Plazaleta Del Rosario
Across a very busy street from there is a series of old churches across from Parque Santender.

 I then arrived at my destination:  the Museo Del Oro:
Museo Del Oro (the big letters were the clue)
The museum, not in an old-style colonial building despite its location, houses an extraordinary of gold artifacts from the pre-Columbian civilizations that inhabited the land of Colombia.

The collection was impressive.  That's a lot of gold to be displaying publicly under one roof.  It also was an interesting lesson in the pre-Columbian tribes that inhabited various parts of Colombia.  In the schools when I was growing up, South America had the Inca and that was about it.  I mean it was an "empire," so they had to control a lot of territory for a long period of time, like the Romans, right?  The Inca's reign in Peru was brief.  They just happened to be the last tribe standing when the Spanish arrived.  And a whole lot was happening in Colombia wholly independent of the goings-on down in Peru.

According to the Museum, gold had no independent value to these tribes. It was a decoration that was a gift from the Sun and, like the Sun, it was pure. Silver and copper, impure, were still considered beuatiful, but they were of the Moon. So wearing gold made you one with the Sun.

Photography was permitted in the museum, just not flash photography:

Small gold objects

This was an interesting piece. Get a load of the honker on this one.

Ceremonial bird
Not all of the pieces were pure gold.  Some blended gold and silver, or gold and copper.  They also displayed some non-metallic artifacts, such as these displays from San Agustin (which is where I will be on Tuesday):
San Agustin scene
Also flying in from San Agustin was this fine fellow
The museum tour culminated in this gold piece, in the "offering" section, a rendering of the legend of El Dorado:

El Dorado
The myth of El Dorado centers on a man who covered himself in gold and rowed to the center of a lake, offering himself to the Sun.  Hey, that lake where that is believed to have happened in ancient times?  It's on my itinerary for today.

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