This anthropomorphic solid yellow gold bottle Quimbaya pendant (poporo) once contained pure lime poweder.
In Andean South America, there is an indigenous tradition for the ritual use of coca leaves. In Precolumbian times the chief method of using coca was to place a quid of leaves into the mouth and add a small amount of powdered lime, made from calcined seashells. Standard coca-chewing paraphernalia included a small bag for the leaves and a container and a spatula or spoon for the lime. The utensils could be quite elaborate and made of precious materials. Lime containers from Colombia, known as "poporos," were often cast in gold in the form of nude human figures or as flasks incorporating raised nude images on each side. Both figures and flasks exhibit great elegance of conception, manufacture, and finish. This bottle depicting an unclad male holding what is believed to be a miraca in each hand, still contains reminance of powdered lime.
The Quimbaya inhabited the areas corresponding to the modern departments of Quindío, Caldas and Risaralda in Colombia, around the valley of the Cauca River. There is no clear data about when they were initially established; the current best guess is around the 1st century BCE.
The Quimbaya people reached their zenith during the 4th to 7th century CE period known as The Quimbaya Classic. The culture's the most emblematic piece of this culture comes from this period, a form of poporo known as the Poporo Quimbaya,. The most frequent designs in the art pieces are anthropomorphic, depicting men and women sitting with closed eyes and placid expression, as well as many fruits and forms of poporos.
Most of the retrieved items are part of funeral offerings, found in the inside of sarcophagi made of hollow trunks. The gold represented a sacred metal and the passport for the afterlife. Around the 10th century the Quimbaya culture disappeared entirely due to unknown circumstances; studies of the archeological items point to an advanced cultural development and the political structure of a cacicazgo with separated groups dedicated to pottery, religion, trade, gold work and war.
Quimbaya Human Effigy Lime Bottle