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Beyond El Dorado: Power and Gold in Ancient Columbia @ British Museum

大英博物館で開催中の「Beyond El Dorado」展(10月17日〜翌年3月23日)を観に行った。普段は行かない種類の展覧会なのだが、たまたまチケットをもらったのだ。

スペイン語で「金箔をかぶせた」または「黄金の人」を意味するエル・ドラードは、全身に金粉を塗り、コロンビアのグアタビータ湖に飛び込む儀式を行っていたMuisca(ムイスカ)族の長の名前で、アンデスの奥地に存在するとされた黄金郷・エル・ドラード伝説の基となった。コロンビアの首都・ボゴタにあるMuseo del Oro(金博物館)と共に企画したこの展覧会では、金のみならず、グアタビータ湖周辺から発掘された陶器や石の遺物など、Museo del Oroから約200点、大英博物館のコレクション約100点を展示。16世紀のスペインのコンキスタドールの到来以前の、古代コロンビアの豊かで多様な文化を紹介する。



I went to see “Beyond El Dorado” exhibition at British Museum. I rarely go this kind of exhibition, but I got a free ticket. That’s the reason.

El Dorado, ‘the gilded or golden one’ in Spanish, is the name of a Muisca tribal chief who covered himself with gold dust and, as an initiation rite, dived into the Guatavita Lake in Columbia. It became the name of a legendary “Lost City of Gold.” Organised with Museo del Oro (museum of gold) in Bogotá, this exhibition features over 200 objects from Museo del Oro and around 100 from the British Museum’s collection, not only objects made of gold but also of ceramic and other materials excavated near the lakes, and explores the rich and diverse cultures of ancient Colombia before the Spanish arrivals in the 16th centry.

Unlike in Europe, gold was not valued as currency in pre-Hispanic Colombia but it had symbolic and spiritual meaning for the elite to claim their power, both in life and in death. Tools for rituals, ornaments, animal objects (each animal represents different meaning), and musical instruments etc. – those artifacts show us the advanced goldworking techniques and complex craftsmanship, which were different in techniques and designs across the tribes. I’ve never seen those ancient artifacts from Columbia and I enjoyed learning something new, but I prefer to see them in Columbia, not in London especially during the wet and dark November.

I would think people are more distracted by concurrent Shunga exhibition, and you know why. There was a plan to bring the exhibition to Japan, but I read that no museum was courageous enough to host it because of its explicit portrayal of sex. What a shame!