He is described as one who ' went about all covered with powdered gold, as casually as if it were powdered salt. For it seemed to him to wear any other finery was less beautiful, and that to put on ornaments or arms made of gold worked by hammering, stamping, or any other means was a vulgar and common thing." That is the description given by Gonzalo Fernandez Oviedo.
When writing of this same man Basilio Vicente de Oviedo wrote, " I would rather have the sweepings of the chamber of this prince than the great meltings of gold that have been in Peru or that there could be anywhere on earth. For the Indians say that this chief or king is a very rich and great ruler...He looks resplendent as a gold object worked by the hand of a great artist...On the Mainland, I have seen plenty of gold that the Spaish call placer gold, in such quantites that he could easily do what is said."
The man described is often now called El Dorado, the gilded man or golden man. He was the lord of Guativita, a part of the Muisca "confederation" located near modern day Bogota in Colombia. The last chief is said to have been crowned some dozen years before the arrival of the Spanish.
Today Colombia is the "Land of El Dorado." The treasures of Egypt's famed King Tut pale when compared to the treasures viewed in Bogota's Museo del oro. The story of El Dorado is but a pinacle of accounts of cultures that used gold, as Andre Emmerich noted, "like other cultures used bronze." Descriptions of massive gold objects (one porcupine weighed 140 pounds), of warriors dressed in gold from head to foot, of grass being pulled from the earth with roots entwined more in gold than in soil.
Colombia's prehispanic cultures are fascinating, but one would have to be either jaded or a lair not to be impressed with their golden heritage.