Symbol of the sun god
This necklace, one of my favorites from my adventures in Ecuador, features the sun god from the Tolita culture, which dates to pre-Columbian Ecuador. I saw a stunning mask of this in el Museo Nacional de Banco Central del Ecuador in the Gold Room (Sala de Oro). The mask, fashioned of pure gold, demonstrates impressive metalworking.
The Tolita culture was well-known for their gold work, and often created masks for special occasions. By wearing a mask, they believed that one would take on the the power of the deity depicted. They inhabited the area of southern Ecuador and northern Columbia from roughly 500 BC to 500 AD. Today, an archaeological site in Ecuador named Tolita Island features archaeological ruins of the culture. Fascination with the sun god can be found historically throughout the indigenous cultures of Ecuador, with the incorporation and worship of Inti, the Incan sun god. Incan kings established their divinity by claiming to be descendants of Inti. This same symbol appears in Incan myth, with Inti often depicted as a golden disk or male with rays projected from the head.
While browsing the shops in Otavalo, the largest indigenous market in South America, with one of my favorite Ecuadorian friends, he revealed to me some of the significance behind the strange pendent. I, of course, couldn’t resist bartering the price down and purchasing this example of indigenous Ecuadorian culture.