Label Text: Unlike Europeans, Pre-Columbian people never used gold for coinage or exchange. Beautiful, bright, reflective, impervious to decay—these are gold’s intrinsic qualities that Pre-Columbian people valued. Objects like this frog necklace survive because they were hidden or buried with their original owners until their graves were uncovered hundreds of years later. Pre-Columbian artisans were exceptional metal workers who used the “lost wax” method to create detailed, lightweight, hollow castings with delicate filigree. The wearer of this necklace likely aimed to dazzle and impress.
The frog, like many animals, carried symbolic meaning in Pre-Columbian America. In addition to transforming from egg to tadpole to frog, Panama’s bright yellow golden frog produces poisonous or hallucinogenic toxins. No doubt both qualities helped imbue it with powerful meaning. Today, the golden frog remains an important national symbol in Panama.