It’s been 80 years since Costa Rica had an indigenous person on its new banknotes. The last being in 1939, and believed that it was the Talamanqueño king Antonio Saldaña
The banknote was issued by the Banco Nacional, a 10 Colones note when the national bank was responsible for printing our money.
In a book published by Museums of Costa Rica, in 2014, it is explained that the illustration of that chief was made with great influences from a drawing by the Spanish artist Tomás Povedano, who lived in Costa Rica.
The Indio of Povedano’s drawing is called “cacique huetar”, it was published in the Historical Book of Costa Rica (between 1909 and 1937) and is said to be the last king of Talamanca, named Antonio Saldaña.
In fact, the illustrations of Povedano and that on the 10-colones note are almost identical to those of Saldaña in a photograph.
Two years later, in 1941, the same Banco Nacional issued another, two colones and E-series, which had an illustration on the back based on another painting by Povedano called “El rescate de Dulcehe” (The Rescue of Dulcehe).
The Spanish conqueror Juan Vásquez de Coronado appears on the front of that banknote.
Dulcehe was an indigenous princess in 1560, she was the sister of the chief of the Quepo Indians, called Corrohore, and who lived in the southern part of Costa Rica.
Dulcehe was captured by the Coto Indians, who had quarrels with the Quepo. That motivated Juan Vásquez de Coronado, who took issue with the quepo, to invade the lands of the preserve until the princess was rescued.
Currently, different pre-Columbian archaeological pieces, pieces of jewelry, kitchen or a ceremonial altar appear on the security stamps, however, an indigenous face does not.
Víctor Mena, a Costa Rican Indian Huetar sees as “a great failure of our rulers, the absence of our culture, of our people and leaders. Let’s not talk about presenting a great chief, let’s talk about presenting the indigenous culture, something that has never been done. It is a great debt because we have plenty of culture and representatives that can decorate a bill. ”