At the time of the Spanish conquest, the Inca housed an artificial garden of golden maize in the Coricancha, the main temple in Cuzco. The origin of this golden maize cob is uncertain, although it resembles ones from that royal garden. Possibly, it was made for the Inca by artisans from the north coast, where there was a long tradition of crafting hollow, three-dimensional gold pieces.
Gold and silver replicas of plants and animals important to Inka life are relatively rare. The invading Spanish melted down hundreds of thousands of Peruvian artworks, the gold later embellishing Christian altars, members of the nobility and funding the expansion of the Castilian empire. Maize (corn) was most important to the Inkas in the form of chichi, a mildly alcoholic beer served at feasts and used as an offering during religious rituals.
Place object was created: Southern Highlands
Measurements: length: 8.875 inches width: 4.5 inchesGift of William and Mary Barnes 2008.81.7
Currently on view at Mint Museum RANDOLPH