Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Chile before Chile


These stone sceptres, called clavas, are shaped like stylized bird heads, but their significance, function, and period of manufacture is still unknown. They were probably insignias of authority that originated in Chile or Argentina, and indeed similar implements are wielded by human figures in the art of the La Aguada people of northwest Argentina. Some clavas bear an intriguing similarity to the Polynesian staff of command, which raises questions about their possible origin that archaeology has not yet answered.