HISTORY OF COLOMBIA
GOLD RULERS -MUSICA RAFT (Balsa Muisca in Spanish)
The figure of the legend of El Dorado
Muisca raft, representation of the initiation of the new Zipa in the lake of Guatavita, possible source of the legend of El Dorado. It was found in a cave in Pasca, Colombia in 1856, together with many other gold objects. It is 19.5 cm long, 10.1 cm wide and 10.2 cm high. Dated between 1200 and 1500 BC. It is made of an alloy of gold (80%), silver and copper, by using the lost wax method. The cacique in the center is surrounded by attendants and oarsmen
During this ritual the heir to the chieftainship (zipa) covered his body with gold dust and emeralds jumped into the lake providing offerings to the gods.
The Muisca raft (Balsa Muisca in Spanish), sometimes referred to as the El Dorado Raft, is an artistic figure of pre-Colombian gold votive, drafted by the Muisca who established one of the four grand civilisations in the Americas on the Altiplano Cundiboyacense in the Eastern Ranges of the Colombian Andes. The piece is exhibited at the Gold Museum in Bogota. It is estimated that the figure was drawn between 600 and 1600 AD by lost-wax casting in gold with a small amount of copper.
The figure refers to the ceremony of the legend of El Dorado. It represents the ceremony of investiture of the Muisca chief, which used to take place at Lake Guatavita. During this ritual, the heir to the chieftainship (zipa) covered his body with gold dust and jumped into the lake along with gold offerings and emeralds to the gods. The piece has a base in the shape of a log boat with dimensions of 19.5 cm x 10.1 cm and various figures on the raft, the largest figure that stands in the middle apparently represents the chief, which is adorned with headdresses, nose rings and earrings, measuring 10.2 cm and is surrounded by his soldiers who carry banners.
The raft was found by three farmers in early 1969 in a cave in the village of Lázaro Fonte in the municipality of Pasca (Cundinamarca), Colombia in a ceramic pot, adorned with a human figure whose face has sharp teeth. The priest of the municipality protected the piece until it was acquired by Bogota's Gold Museum and where it has become one of its major exhibition pieces. It has never left Colombia.