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definition - Crown of the Andes

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Crown of the Andes

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The Crown of the Andes, or La Corona de Nuestra Senora de los Andes, is a religious crown originally made for a more than life-size statue of the Virgin in the Cathedral of Popayán, Colombia. The crown is 34.5 cm high, 52 cm in circumference, weighs 2.18 kilos in all and is made from 18 - 22 carat gold. There are 450 emeralds on it: the largest, known as the “Atahualpa Emerald”, is a rectangular stone measuring 15.8 by 16.15 mms.[1]

History

Various tales circulate about its construction and origin. According to the most common report it was made in the 1590s in thanksgiving for Popayán being spared an outbreak of smallpox devastating the region, and includes emeralds taken from the captured Inca Emperor Atahualpa: Christopher Hartop however, a jewellery expert who examined the crown during a proposed sale at the auctioneer Christie’s in New York in 1995, suggested then it was a composite piece, parts of which were probably made at different times between the 16th and 18th centuries.[2] The crown had a long history of use in the Holy Week celebrations in Popayán, until in the early decades of the 20th century papal permission was sought to sell it and dedicate the funds raised to charitable purposes. Permission was given in 1914 but the sellers, the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception (la Cofradía de la Inmaculada Concepción), did not find a buyer until 1936 when an American syndicate led by Chicago businessman Warren J. Piper purchased it. At the time Mr. Piper said the crown would be broken up and individual jewels sold off, but this did not happen. Instead the crown was exhibited sporadically over the next few decades, notably at Detroit in 1937 when General Motors used it at the unveiling of their new Chevrolet range: 225,000 people are said to have viewed it on that occasion, some 15% of the city's then population. It was also displayed at the New York World's Fair of 1939 and in 1959 at the Royal Ontario Museum.[3]

The crown was not sold during the 1995 sale and its current owner(s) are not identified. It is believed to be usually kept in New York but is occasionally put on display, most recently in Indianapolis at an exhibition called 'Sacred Spain: Art and Belief in the Spanish World', held October 2009 - January 3 2010 at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

It has been suggested that as the crown was made in Popayan from local gold and emeralds and used there continually in religious worship for some three centuries it should be returned to the region where it has most cultural resonance.[4] It is not known whether any moves are under way to achieve this.

Notes

  1. El País, 19 September 1995:"La corona, de 34,5 centímetros de alto y 52 de circunferencia, tiene un peso total de 2,18 kilos y una calidad de oro de I8-22 quilates. Todas las joyas, en un total de 450 esmeraldas, se distribuyen entre la banda y la diadema. La esmeralda más grande es la esmeralda de Atahuelpa, una piedra de talla rectangular de 15,80 por 16,15 milímetros."("The crown, which is 34.5 cms high and has a circumference of 52 cms, weighs 2.8 kilos and is made of 18-22 carat gold. The jewels, totalling 450 emeralds, are distributed between the headband and diadem. The biggest is the Atalhualpa emerald, a rectangular stone measuring 15.8 by 16.5mms.")
  2. Norman, Geraldine, ‘Crowning Glory of the Andes’ : The Independent on Sunday, 18 June 1995: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/crowning-glory-of-the-andes-1587131.html
  3. Norman, Geraldine, ‘Crowning Glory of the Andes’ : The Independent on Sunday, 18 June 1995: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/crowning-glory-of-the-andes-1587131.html
  4. Germán Izquierdo Manrique, ‘La Corona de los Andes: La más bella de las coronas religiosas está en USA y debería estar en Colombia’: CiudadViva, Instituto Distrital de Cultura y Turismo, October 2006: http://www.ciudadviva.gov.co/octubre06/periodico/8/index.php

External links

  • Intrigue surrounding the baroque jeweled treasure provides material for a work of fiction One Sacred Crown published in 2009 to coincide with the North American exhibition.

 

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