The Research

Curated by Patricia Fernández Esquivel

Invited researcher: Ornithologist Julio Sánchez

Costa Rican ancestors depicted different families of birds on ceramic, stone, jade, and gold objects. Why were these animals represented so often? What did they symbolize?

The scant information available explaining why birds were so often represented in pre-Columbian materials is what prompted the Stone, Clay, and Gold Birds in Pre-Columbian Costa Rica  exhibition. It sought to further knowledge on this subject, based on biological data on these birds.

The research process revealed 18 families of birds present in these objects, with birds of prey as the most commonly depicted. The exhibition totaled 100 objects, 42 of them belonging to the National Museum and 58 to the Museums of the Central Bank.

The Exhibition

 The first part of this exhibition showed the behavior of these birds and their nesting habits, migratory patterns, evolution, vocalization, and geographical area distribution.

It went on to broach the cultural use of these birds in pre-Columbian objects, their symbolism, and their significance to indigenous civilizations.

The largest section in the exhibition showcased the main characteristics of several bird families, as identified by ornithologist Julio Sánchez, in the pre-Columbian objects on display. The participant was then invited to reflect upon the conservation of these species by making appropriate use of natural resources.