Sinú Gold Toucan Finial, ca. A.D. 500-1000
The Caribbean northern lowland region of Colombia's Sinú and San Jorge rivers was home to the greater Zenú people. Their sophisticated and elaborate system of artificial canals and raised beds was the largest hydralic system in prehispanic America, which supported communities reaching a florescence at AD 500-1000. The high level of gold technology grew from the exchange with the broader area including the Isthmus region.
Early Zenú gold work includes finely cast heavy finials for staffs that feature naturalistic animals of the lowland plains including birds, land animals and aquatic creatures. Avians are frequently cast with openwork filigree design, and are associated with the upper level of the cosmos. See Falchetti (2000:132-137, and Fig. 7.5e and Fig. 7.8) for examples of avian finials.