Crown of the Andes

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Crown of the Andes Crown of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, known as the Crown of the Andes MET DP365520.jpg
Crown of the Andes

The Crown of Our Lady of the Assumption of Popayán, known as the Crown of the Andes (in Spanish as La Corona de los Andes and as La Corona de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Popayán), is a votive crown originally made for a larger-than-life sized statue of the Virgin Mary in the cathedral of Popayán, Colombia. The oldest parts of the crown are the orb and cross at the top, which date to the 16th century. The diadem was made around 1660, and the arches were added around 1770. [1] The crown is adorned with 450 emeralds, the largest of which is the "Atahualpa Emerald"; this might have belonged to Incan Emperor Atahualpa (1497–1533) and been seized from him when he was captured in 1532 by Francisco Pizarro, a Spanish conquistador. [2] [3] In 1936, the crown was sold by its owners to an American businessman and it has remained in the United States ever since. As of December 2015, the crown belongs to the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. [4]

Votive crown

A votive crown is a votive offering in the form of a crown, normally in precious metals and often adorned with jewels. Especially in the Early Middle Ages, they are of a special form, designed to be suspended by chains at an altar, shrine or image. Later examples are more often typical crowns in the style of the period, either designed to be placed on the head of a statue, or re-used in this way after donation.

Popayán City in Cauca, Colombia

Popayán is the capital of the Colombian department of Cauca. It is located in southwestern Colombia between the Western Mountain Range and Central Mountain Range. It has a population of 258,653 people, an area of 512 km2, is located 1760 meters above sea level, and has an average temperature of 18 °C.

Atahualpa Ruler of the Inca Empire

Atahualpa, also Atahuallpa, Atabalipa or Atawallpa (Quechua) was the last Inca Emperor. After defeating his brother, Atahualpa became very briefly the last Sapa Inca of the Inca Empire (Tawantinsuyu) before the Spanish conquest.



The crown is 34 centimetres (13 in) high with a body diameter of 33.4 centimetres (13.1 in), [1] and weighs 2.17 kilograms (4.8 lb). It is made from 18–22 carat gold, repoussé and chased. There are 450 emeralds on it: the largest, known as the "Atahualpa Emerald", is a rectangular stone measuring 15.8 millimetres (0.62 in) by 16.14 millimetres (0.635 in). [5]

Repoussé and chasing metalworking technique in which a malleable metal is ornamented or shaped by hammering from the reverse side to create a design in low relief

Repoussé or repoussage is a metalworking technique in which a malleable metal is ornamented or shaped by hammering from the reverse side to create a design in low relief. It is a form of toreutics.


Various tales circulate about the construction and origin of the Crown of the Andes. According to the conventional account, it was made in the 1590s in gratitude for the city of Popayán after being spared an outbreak of smallpox which was devastating the region. It includes emeralds purportedly taken from Incan Emperor Atahualpa. However, Christopher Hartop is a jewellery expert who examined the crown during a proposed sale at Christie's in New York in 1995, and he suggested that it was a composite piece. He dated the little cross at the top to the 16th century, with the bottom half being completed in the 17th century and the intersecting arches dating to the 18th century. [6]

Christies British auction house

Christie's is a British auction house. It was founded in 1766 by James Christie. Its main premises are on King Street, St James's, in London and in the Rockefeller Center in New York City. The company is owned by Groupe Artémis, the holding company of François-Henri Pinault. Sales in 2015 totalled £4.8 billion. In 2017 the Salvator Mundi was sold for $450.3 million at Christie's, and which at that time was the highest price ever paid for a single painting at an auction.

The Crown had a long history of use in the Holy Week celebrations in Popayán, until the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception (La Cofradía de la Inmaculada Concepción) sought papal permission to sell it in the early decades of the 20th century, dedicating the funds to charitable purposes. Permission was given in 1914, but the sellers did not find a buyer until 1936 when an American syndicate purchased it, led by Chicago businessman Warren J. Piper. Piper said that the crown would be broken up and the jewels sold individually, but this did not happen. Instead, it 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 models. 225,000 people are said to have viewed it on that occasion, some 15% of the city's population. It was also displayed at the 1939 New York World's Fair and in 1959 at the Royal Ontario Museum. [6]

Holy Week calendar date

Holy Week in Christianity is the week just before Easter. It is also the last week of Lent, in the West, – Palm Sunday, Holy Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday – are all included. However, Easter Day, which begins the season of Eastertide, is not. Although, traditions observing the Easter Triduum may overlap or displace part of Holy Week or Easter itself within that additional liturgical period.

Worldwide The Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is one of the oldest lay apostolates still operating in the Roman Catholic Church, having been part of the Congregation of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception founded by Saint Stanislaw Papczynski. <"The Blessed Marian Founder fervently encouraged his spiritual sons to establish confraternities of the Immaculate Conception at Marian churches. The first laws of the Order of 1694-1698 speak of this already."

General Motors American automotive manufacturing company

General Motors Company, commonly referred to as General Motors (GM), is an American multinational corporation headquartered in Detroit that designs, manufactures, markets, and distributes vehicles and vehicle parts, and sells financial services, with global headquarters in Detroit's Renaissance Center. It was originally founded by William C. Durant on September 16, 1908 as a holding company. The company is the largest American automobile manufacturer, and one of the world's largest. As of 2018, General Motors is ranked #10 on the Fortune 500 rankings of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.

The Crown was not sold during the 1995 sale. Afterwards, it was usually kept in New York, put on display in Indianapolis at an exhibition called Sacred Spain: Art and Belief in the Spanish World held from October 2009 to January 2010 at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Its acquisition was announced by the Metropolitan Museum in New York in December 2015. It was acquired and exported legally, but it was made in Popayán from local gold and emeralds and used there continually in religious worship for three centuries, and the Instituto Distrital de Cultura y Turismo of Colombia has suggested that it should be returned to the region where it has the most cultural significance. [7]

Indianapolis Museum of Art Art Museum in Indianapolis, Indiana

The Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) is an encyclopedic art museum located at Newfields, a 152-acre (0.62 km2) campus at the corner of 4000 N. Michigan Road and W. 38th Street, near downtown Indianapolis, northwest of Crown Hill Cemetery. Newfields also houses the Lilly House, The Garden, The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: 100 Acres, the Beer Garden, and more. There are exhibitions, classes, tours, and events, many of which change seasonally. The campus was re-named in 2017 to better reflect the breadth of offerings and venues.

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  1. 1 2 "Crown of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, known as the Crown of the Andes". Metropolitan Museum of Art . Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  2. Jewel: A Celebration of Earth's Treasures. Dorling Kindersley Ltd. 2016. p. 231.
  3. Frank W. Thackeray; John E. Findling (2012). Events That Formed the Modern World. ABC-CLIO. p. 236.
  4. Metropolitan Museum of Art website
  5. "La Corona de los Andes sale a subasta en 500 millones de pesetas". 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 18-22 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 cm high and has a circumference of 52 cm, 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 16.5 mm.]
  6. 1 2 Norman, Geraldine (18 June 1995). "Crowning Glory of the Andes". The Independent on Sunday .
  7. Germán Izquierdo Manrique (October 2006). "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.
<i>USA Today</i> American national daily newspaper

USA Today is an internationally distributed American daily, middle-market newspaper that serves as the flagship publication of its owner, the Gannett Company. The newspaper has a generally centrist audience. Founded by Al Neuharth on September 15, 1982, it operates from Gannett's corporate headquarters on Jones Branch Drive, in McLean, Virginia. It is printed at 37 sites across the United States and at five additional sites internationally. Its dynamic design influenced the style of local, regional, and national newspapers worldwide, through its use of concise reports, colorized images, informational graphics, and inclusion of popular culture stories, among other distinct features.