Crocodile-God Pendant

This Pre-Columbian pendant from Panama is from the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art. The crocodile and its relatives (caiman and alligator) are common images in Pre-Columbian arts and are represented in the Coclé culture in various forms. As with much Pre-Columbian imagery, this is not a simple, naturalistic depiction. The face, for example, appears human because it is parallel to the body, not at right angles to it, as a real crocodile’s would be. Although we do not know the crocodile’s specific significance for Coclé culture, its ferocious nature makes it a powerful symbol that may have reflected the aggressiveness of the society. This pendant was one of many objects found in graves at Sitio Conte, the major site in Coclé.