Zooanthropomorph Iconography in the Gran Coclé, Gran Chiriqui and Tairona areas

Author(s): Alice Diaz

Year: 2018


The Zooanthropomorphic beings present on some artifacts of the cultural areas Tairona (Colombia), Gran Coclé (Panama) and Gran Chiriqui (Costa Rica) dating back to pre-Columbian times have often been identified as shamans. But what are the iconographic elements that are in favor of such a precise interpretation?

To begin with, we did a thorough iconographical analysis aiming to determine taxonomically the animal component, the ratio between human and animal, and the precise anatomical elements that could be attributed to one or the other. In the second phase of this work the iconographic analysis has been cross referenced against the abundant anthropologic literature available on the subject of shamanism.

This process allows us to perceive better the diversity of possible interpretations for Zooanthropomorphic beings, which are not necessarily confined to a shamanic metamorphosis.

We can therefore reflect upon the spiritual and political context with more latitude, which is necessary for the information we have about either in the three concerned cultural areas is scarce.

Cite this Record

Zooanthropomorph Iconography in the Gran Coclé, Gran Chiriqui and Tairona areas. Alice Diaz. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 442611)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -92.153; min lat: -4.303 ; max long: -50.977; max lat: 18.313 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20561